Butare, a trial out of bounds at the ICTR
On June 11, it will be six years since the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) began the trial for six genocide suspects who come from the Butare region in southern Rwanda. The six Rwandans, whose positions and background were quite different, were joined together to "speed up the proceedings." However, this produced just the opposite effect, and the trial has been dragged out with irreparable consequences. This month, two of the accused will begin their thirteenth year in prison with still no verdict in sight. In July, three others will be celebrating their tenth year in prison. So much for international human rights law, which guarantees a defendant the right to be tried "without undue delay." This affair has done much to tarnish a tribunal that was supposed to uphold human rights. The prosecution has taken three and a half years to present 59 witnesses. In two and a half years, four defense teams will have called approximately 80. At this rate, it will take another two years to hear the 60 remaining witnesses listed by the defense. The six accused will by then have spent between 11 and 14 years in preventive detention.