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  Sunday, November 1 2:46pm PST

Saatchi & Saatchi
Hunger Strike Ends
Rwandan genocide suspects back on food, says tribunal judge

All the Rwandan detainees who were on a hunger strike in support of Jean Paul Akayesu, are reported to be now back on their food.

The detainees are inmates at the United Nation's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, at Arusha in Tanzania, awaiting trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Akayesu, who was convicted on those charges about a month ago, started refusing food on the 22nd of October, after the registrar of the court refused to appoint the lawyer he had requested to appeal his conviction.

Twenty other inmates joined him to press for the right to choose their own defense lawyers, and went on their own hunger strikes on Monday.

One of the six judges appointed to the Tribunal, Ravanethem Pillay, said in an interview in San Francisco today (October 28) that she had heard from the president of the Tribunal that the strike had now been called off.

"I have just learned that all of the others have gone back to eating, and the doctor is now talking to Mr. Akayesu to give up his strategy," she said.

Judge Ravanethem Pillay
Judge Pillay said Akayesu had wanted a certain Canadian lawyer to act for him to appeal his conviction, but the registrar had declined his request. She said all detainees had the right to appoint and pay for their own lawyers. If they could not do this, they were offered a choice of six lawyers, as Akayesu had been. However, it was believed Akayesu's preferred lawyer was not on that list.

An earlier report from CNN said only five of the inmates had ended their strike, leaving 20 more refusing food. It said that all hunger strikers were reported to be in reasonable health.

The tribunal was set up by the U.N. Security Council in November 1994 to bring to justice the main architects of the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

It has so far detained 33 people and made two convictions. A third trial is now underway.


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