Angered by the release on appeal of a genocide suspect, Rwanda has refused an entry visa to the chief prosecutor of the U.N. genocide tribunal.
The government has suspended relations with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to protest the court's decision to free Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a leading suspect in the 1994 genocide in which more than half a million people died.
But tribunal spokesman Kingsley Moghalu said today at the court's headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, that in a notice given to the tribunal Friday to review the appellate decision, prosecutor Carla Del Ponte argued that "new and additional facts," which she did not identify, would be admissible in the review proceedings.
Moghalu said Del Ponte, who had planned to travel to Rwanda on Tuesday, would instead go to Arusha.
The tribunal's appellate judges had ordered the release of Barayagwiza--a leader of an extremist Hutu party that led the massacres of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus--on procedural grounds, saying he had been detained for too long without trial. The judges blamed the prosecution.
Rwanda has asked Tanzania to arrest and extradite Barayagwiza, who is still in custody in Arusha.
Del Ponte, the Swiss general prosecutor for the tribunal, has urged Rwandan authorities to reconsider and pledged to remedy the causes of the recent ruling.
"We take the decision by the appellate court very seriously," said prosecution spokesman Paul Risley. "Her priority with the Rwanda tribunal is to correct the deficiencies that led to this appellate decision."
Del Ponte has complained that without Rwanda's cooperation, the tribunal could no longer function. Most defense and prosecution witnesses testifying in Arusha come from Rwanda.
Attorney General Gerald Gahima insisted that Rwanda should not suffer because of what he called "prosecutorial incompetence" that led the judges to order Barayagwiza's release. Gahima said at least three of the 38 defendants had already asked to be freed on the same grounds, throwing all future trials into question.
Rwanda has been conducting its own genocide trials and has tried 1,500 of about 125,000 suspects and executed 22 convicts. The maximum penalty the U.N. tribunal can impose is life in prison.