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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 20:25 GMT

World: Africa

Kigali protest against UN tribunal

Hundreds of thousands fled the killings

About 5,000 people have demonstrated in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, in protest at the UN tribunal's decision to release a leading suspect of the 1994 genocide.

Recently, the Rwandan Government suspended cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha and refused to meet chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte over the release of a former Rwanda official on procedural grounds.

Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza is alleged to have used radio and television to incite mass killings, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Protesters outside the tribunal's Kigali office called on them to rearrest Barayagwiza or get out of Rwanda.

Salt in the wounds

"You are rubbing salt in the wounds of genocide survivors," shouted Anastase Mulumba, the head of survivors' organisation, Ibuka.

[ image: Carla del Ponte: Still intends to visit Rwanda despite government anger]
Carla del Ponte: Still intends to visit Rwanda despite government anger
"Try him or send him to us for a trial. But don't let him go free."

Speakers at the protest said Barayagwiza's release made a mockery of justice and warned that it would encourage people to take the law into their own hands.

A cordon of security guards and Rwandan police barred from the protesters from reaching the tribunal's office.

Tanzanian custody

Earlier this month the UN appeals court at The Hague dismissed charges against Barayagwiza and ordered him to be returned to Cameroon, where he was arrested in 1996

Appeal judges had ordered Mr Barayagwiza's release on the grounds that he had been held for too long without appearing in court.

Mr Barayagwiza is still in the custody of the Tanzanian authorities in Arusha and he has appealed against the order to be sent back to Cameroon, asking to be allowed to choose the country to which he would be sent.

Rwanda is conducting its own genocide trials, separate from the UN tribunal, and has so far executed 22 people.

At least 125,000 people are jailed in Rwanda awaiting trial on a variety of charges ranging from orchestrating genocide to obeying orders to kill their neighbours.

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