The United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal for Rwanda has handed 15 of its cases over to Rwandan authorities.

Tribunal officials say the move is intended to help the court speed up its work prosecuting suspected leaders of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis were killed.

They say the 15 suspects, still at large, are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Rwandan officials have been pressing the tribunal to hand over suspected masterminds of the genocide for trial in their home country.

Rwanda's Deputy Chief Prosecutor Martin Ngoga Thursday welcomed the tribunal's decision.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has convicted 20 people and acquitted three since it was set up in 1994.  Another 25 people are on trial, while 18 others are awaiting trial.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.