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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Extra genocide judges 'no use'
Genocide skulls in Rwanda
800 000 people were killed in the genocide
The chief prosecutor in Rwanda has said that the appointment of extra judges to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICT) is not the solution to the problems facing the trials of genocide suspects.

The 18 judges, elected on Wednesday by the United Nations Security Council, will join the court's current 16 permanent judges to help speed up the work of the tribunal.

Many people who are involved in running the tribunal have an interest in perpetuating its existence because they make a livelihood out of it
Gerard Gahima
Rwanda's chief prosecutor

Gerard Gahima told BBC Focus on Africa that people should not expect miracles because of the additional judges.

"The ICT has fundamental problems such as bad management, severe corruption, problems relating to the abuse of the procedure by the defendants and their defence lawyers," he said.

The tribunal, set up in 1995 and based in Arusha, Tanzania, is dealing with the cases of major figures accused of being behind the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

More than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by armed militias in 100 days of violence.

The court has worked very slowly and so far only 12 people have been convicted of genocide-related crimes, and one person has been acquitted.

Six of the convicts are serving their jail sentences in Mali.

Ms Del Ponte blames Rwanda for not co-operating with the court

The Rwandan Government has criticised the tribunal over the pace of justice and for what it sees as the tribunal's failure to protect witnesses testifying against those accused of crimes.

The ICT has an annual budget of more than $180m and the trial of each suspect costs more than $50m.

But on average they do not conclude even a single case a year, Mr Gahima said.

He says that many people who are involved in running the tribunal "have an interest in perpetuating its existence because they make a livelihood out of it".

The tribunal has defended the slowness of the court, saying that international justice "is a very special kind of justice, it is very unique, it is perfectionist".

Not co-operating

The chief prosecutor of the tribunal, Carla del Ponte, told the UN Security Council in 2002 that Rwanda had stopped co-operating with the tribunal.

She said the Tutsi-led government there did not want tribunal staff to investigate allegations of crimes by its supporters during the genocide.

Mr Gahima denies claims that the Rwandan Government does not cooperate with the court.

"We have facilitated their investigations, access to the documents and witnesses and the movement of suspects to Arusha," Mr Gahima said.

"I think the modest success they have had they owe it to us."

The search for perpetrators of the genocide continues, with the United States offering a reward of up to $5m for information leading to arrests.

The new judges will begin serving on trials after the tribunal's summer recess.




SEE ALSO:
Pastor aided Rwanda genocide
19 Feb 03  |  Africa
Rwanda sets up genocide courts
25 Nov 02  |  Africa


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