Global Policy Forum

UN Tribunal Investigating 12 on Its Payroll


Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 29, 2006

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is investigating 12 people in its payroll for their alleged role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a UN official said. "We should be ready with our findings around August," Everard O'Donnell, the acting deputy registrar of the tribunal, said on Wednesday in Arusha, northern Tanzania - the headquarters of the UN court. The 12 allegedly participated in the genocide, which the Rwanda government says claimed the lives of 937,000 people, mostly Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

O'Donnell said the Rwandan government presented the list of the 12 to the tribunal in March. He said one of the suspects, Callixte Gakwaya, is a member of the defence team of another genocide suspect Yusuf Munyakazi, who is already in the tribunal's custody although his trial had not begun. Munyakazi is a former businessman and leader of the pro-Hutu Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND) political party in Cyangugu Province. "I have asked for further information on Gakwaya," O'Donnell said.

The Rwandan government has complained in the past that genocide suspects were working for the tribunal, posing a great risk for the UN court's work and the protection of witnesses. "We welcome the investigations but we want [the] ICTR to expedite the investigations," Alloys Mutabingwa, the special representative of the Rwandan government to the ICTR, said on Wednesday.

In 2001, genocide suspect Simeon Nshamihigo, who was chief prosecutor in the southwestern Rwandan town of Cyangugu during the genocide, was working at the tribunal as an investigator for the defence team of a former military commander, Samuel Imanishimwe, who has since been convicted of genocide. The tribunal's security officers detained Nshamihigo and later handed him to Tanzanian immigration officials, after it was discovered he was using an assumed name and a false passport. He was using the alias Sammy Bahati Weza and claiming to be a Congolese citizen. Although Nshamihigo was not employed directly by the UN, all of those on trial at the tribunal are declared indigent and the salaries of their defence staff paid by the court.

Also in 2001, another suspect, Joseph Nzabirinda, was arrested in Belgium. He was an investigator for the defence team of Sylvain Nsabimana, a former mayor of Butare, who is being tried jointly with five other suspects in what is commonly known as the "Butare Trial". Nshamihigo and Nzabirinda have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. They await the start of their trials.

Since its establishment in 1994, the tribunal has rendered 28 judgements, three of which were acquittals. Trials are underway for 27 other suspects. The UN Security Council has set a deadline of 2008 for the completion of the trials, and 2010 for all appeals.

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