The Government of France has informed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that it will allow Mr. Ignace Bagilishema to reside in France under conditions laid down by the Tribunal pending the determination of the Prosecutor’s appeal against his acquittal.
According to a letter dated 20 September 2001, notifying the Tribunal of its decision, the French Government said it had acted in the spirit of cooperation which it had always shown towards the Tribunal as well as in the higher interest of the fundamental principles of international criminal justice, in particular that of the presumption of innocence.
Responding to this development, the Tribunal’s Registrar, Mr. Adama Dieng said, “This is a very positive example of the international community’s practical support for international justice. It is all the more significant because in this instance support has been given in the context of the Tribunal’s first acquittal”.
Bagilishema was acquitted by Trial Chamber I of the ICTR on 7 June 2001. The Rules of Procedure of the Tribunal provide that, in case of an acquittal, the accused shall be released immediately, however it is also provided that if the Prosecutor announces her intention to appeal against the judgment the Trial Chamber may order the further detention of the accused.
The Prosecutor having made such an announcement the Chamber weighed the risk that Bagilishema would abscond during the appeal proceedings against the fact that he had been acquitted and should therefore be able to exercise his fundamental right to liberty. On 8 June it therefore ordered Bagilishema’s immediate release, subject to the conditions that:
he provide two persons of good standing acceptable to the Tribunal as sureties;
he provide an address where he will reside and undertake to inform the Tribunal and the local police nearest his residence in case of any change of address; that he report on the last Monday of each month at the local police nearest to his residence;
he not travel outside the country of his residence without the written permission of the Tribunal; that his travel documents be retained by the local police.
Counsel for Mr. Bagilishema, Maître Alexandre Roux of the Montpellier Bar, has given the Tribunal the necessary proof that those conditions can be fulfilled in France. No date has yet been fixed for the hearing of the Prosecutor’s appeal.