UN tribunal for Rwandan genocide issues first indictment for false testimony

12 June 2007The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1994 Rwandan genocide has issued an indictment against a witness for giving false testimony during the trial of the country’s former higher education minister. The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1994 Rwandan genocide has issued an indictment against a witness for giving false testimony during the trial of the country’s former higher education minister.Judge Jai Ram Reddy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) confirmed the indictment yesterday after an application from prosecutors, and issued a warrant for the arrest of the witness, identified only by the code name GAA.This is the first time that the ICTR has issued an indictment for false testimony and contempt of court, and it arises from an investigation by prosecutors on the direction of the Tribunal’s appeals chamber when it upheld the conviction of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda in September 2005.Witnesses in that trial were allegedly induced to give false testimony under oath.Mr. Kamuhanda is serving concurrent life sentences after being convicted of genocide and extermination for his role in the mass killings that engulfed the small African country in less than three months in 1994. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, often by machete or club.The ICTR found Mr. Kamuhanda had supervised the killings in his native Gikomero commune in the Kigali-Rural prefecture. He distributed firearms, grenades and machetes to the Hutu Interahamwe militia and led attacks at the parish church and adjoining school in Gikomero, where several thousand Tutsi civilians were killed.Meanwhile, ICTR prosecutors yesterday requested the transfer of the case of Fulgence Kayishema to Rwanda for trial – the first such request for a transfer from the UN tribunal to the Rwandan national jurisdiction.The Rwandan Government has said it is willing and ready to prosecute Mr. Kayishema – who faces charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity – and has given assurances he will receive a fair trial and not be subject to the death penalty.ICTR prosecutors have also asked the trial chamber to require the Tribunal registrar to designate a defence counsel for Mr. Kayishema during the referral proceedings.Mr. Kayishema was inspector of police in Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture during the 1994 genocide. The indictment alleges he conspired with Father Athanase Seromba and others to prepare and carry out a plan to exterminate the Tutsi population in Kivumu and elsewhere in Kibuye.In a separate development, Silvana Arbia has been appointed as Chief Prosecutor at the ICTR, replacing Stephen Rapp, who is now Prosecutor of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).Ms. Arbia has been with the ICTR since October 1999 and has previously worked as a judge, public prosecutor and lawyer in her native Italy. She has also served as a lecturer and as Italy’s delegate to the 1998 conference setting up the International Criminal Court (ICC). read more