Global Policy Forum

Attorney Claims Rwanda Government


By Sukhdev Chhatbar

July 9, 2001

Lennox Hinds of the United States, lead counsel for genocide suspect Juvenal Kajelijeli, today claimed that the government of Rwanda is intimidating defense investigators at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), an allegation which was quickly dismissed by Kigali. "This matter has been raised in the court and it will be upon the court to determine as it deems proper," Martin Ngoga, Rwanda government's representative to the ICTR, responded when asked by Internews to comment on the allegation. "We will not argue out of forum as we are not parties inside the courtroom," Ngoga said. Hinds made the allegation before the resumption of Kajelijeli's trial today. Kajelijeli is former mayor of Ruhengeri Prefecture in northwestern Rwanda. He is charged with 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Kajelijeli has denied committing the crimes between April and July 1994 in Rwanda.

Hinds read out a letter from Augustin Basebya, an investigator in the Kajelijeli defense team. The letter claims certain defense team members are "currently undergoing a type of incarceration and intimidation in Arusha". Basebya, 56, argues in his letter, a copy of which was made available to Internews, that he is on the list of suspects wanted for genocide in Rwanda "in order to destabilize me wherever I will go". "I have become a victim of a monstrous slander and of flagrant injustice from the part of the Rwandan government, which seems determined to condemn people without first bringing an indictment against them." The allegations, Basebya says, are political, as the list "has become an instrument to persecute ethnic Hutu or ethnic Tutsi who are opposed to the totalitarian regime in Kigali or to persecute those who did not support the RPF's taking of Kigali."

Basebya, a former Member of Parliament in Rwanda, says in the letter that he would agree to continue his investigative work in Europe until he is replaced. However, he gives the condition that he should not be compelled to return to Arusha until his name is removed from the list of wanted people in Rwanda. "Should this fail to happen, my withdrawal from the case will be necessary," Basebya says.

The Rwanda government list has more than 3,000 names of people alleged to have participated in the April-June 1994 genocide, which claimed more than 800,000 lives.

Hinds said the Rwandan government is interfering with the work of the tribunal, adding: "I am disappointed and frustrated. It affects my ability to effectively defend my client."

Ken Fleming, acting head of prosecution and lead attorney in the Kajelijeli trial, said he knows nothing of the alleged intimidation. Simeon Nshamihigo, defense investigator for genocide suspect Samuel Imanishimwe, was arrested in May this year and later transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF). He appeared before the ICTR last week and denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Nshamihigo went under the assumed name of Sammy Bahati Weza for three years and held two fake Congolese passports. In April this year, Ngoga told the press that some defense investigators at the ICTR are wanted for genocide in Rwanda.

The Kajelijeli trial is before Trial Chamber II of the ICTR, comprising Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar.

During today's proceedings, the prosecution presented their second witness, who testified in camera.

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