ICTR Prosecutor requests annulment of NL referral 08 Aug 2007
The Prosecutor of the ICTR has requested the annulment of the decision to transfer Rwandan genocide suspect Michel Bagaragaza to the Hague District Court.

Michel BagaragazaOn 8 August 2007, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) requested the annulment of the decision to deliver the Rwandan national, Michel Bagaragaza, to the Hague District Court. On 13 April 2007, the case against Bagaragaza had been referred to the Dutch authorities. Trial Chamber III of the ICTR had found that the Netherlands had jurisdiction over the crime of genocide.

Prosecutor Jallow's request for annulment comes after the Hague District Court issued an intermediary decision on 24 July, in the case against another Rwandan national, Joseph Mpambara (arrested in the Netherlands on 7 August 2006). In its decision, the District Court found that Dutch criminal law does not provide jurisdiction for genocide committed by a Rwandese individual in Rwanda when there are no victims of Dutch nationality. Having noted that an attempt to try Bagaragaza in the Netherlands would be likely to fail, the Prosecutor asked the judges of the ICTR to annul the decision of transfer.

Michel Bagaragaza is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, and alternatively complicity in genocide. On 30 November 2006, the Trial Chamber of the ICTR granted the Prosecution's request to add war crimes as a fourth count to the indictment. The war crimes count was added as a possible alternative to the genocide counts.

If the decision of transfer is annulled, Michel Bagaragaza is likely to be referred to a Rwandan national court. The Netherlands does not extradite (or transfer) suspects to countries unless there are sufficient guarantees that the death penalty will not be imposed. This is no longer an impediment in the present case as Rwanda recently abolished the death penalty. The transfers of accused to national courts, including the courts of Rwanda, form part of the completion strategy of the ICTR to complete its first instance trials by the end of 2008.

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