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Rwanda Genocide Trial - 2002-04-04

Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and his three co-defendants refused to leave their cells Monday, when the trial opened, because they had not been given a French translation of the expert witnesses report.

This so-called military trial is the most important case to come before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.20

Colonel Bagosora was the de facto Rwandan army chief when 800-thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in Rwanda in 1994. It is alleged he planned and implemented the killings. Colonel Bagosora is facing 12-counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The trial is to re-open September second.

Prosecution spokesman Tom Kennedy says the Tribunal needs this much time because it does not have enough translators.

The tribunal has only finite translation resources. We have eight cases that are actually in trial at the moment, involving 21-individuals. But even the cases that are not in trial, there is all sorts of preparatory work going on all the time. There are decisions coming out in all of those cases at a rate of several a day. And the translation department simply can not turn the documents around. So that is really the source of the delay in translation. It is a shortage of resources.

Mr. Kennedy says the court also does not have enough judges to hear Colonel Bagosora's case before September. Two other cases are being heard in the same courtroom.

Mr. Kennedy says the Tribunal urgently needs more judges to speed up its work.

If we do not get the additional resources, which we have asked for, the cases could take until 2015 or even 2020. Now we all regard that as wholly unacceptable. And that is why the president last year asked the Security Council to allow us to appoint 18 ad leitem judges or special or additional judges. Now that matter is still before the Security Council. We believe it is being given favorable attention, but the decision has not come out yet.

The Tribunal has handed down nine verdicts since it was established in 1995. If it is granted these additional judges, it hopes to complete its work by 2008.