Arusha, June 28th, 2000 (FH) - UN Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on Wednesday told the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former prime minister Jean Kambanda had "twice pleaded guilty", and that his life sentence for genocide should be confirmed. Kambanda on Tuesday asked the court to revoke his guilty plea and order a full trial.

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He said he had been denied proper counsel and felt forced to sign his plea agreement with the prosecution. The former prime minister is now arguing that his guilty plea was not voluntary or well-informed. "I was wondering whether Kambanda should have had the opportunity for a trial," Del Ponte told the court, "but yesterday's hearing swept all my doubts away. Kambanda pleaded guilty a second time, he admitted his political responsibility in the genocide. He confirmed the statements he made to the prosecution. . . and it is those declarations which form the basis of his indictment. "In answer to a judge's question, Del Ponte said she understood that Kambanda had admitted there was a genocide in Rwanda in 1994, that he was Prime Minister of the government at the time and that he therefore had political, but not criminal, responsibility. "It is only the adjective which has changed," she said. Del Ponte said Kambanda was aware of the consequences of pleading guilty, and it was the fact of getting a life sentence that had triggered his appeal. She said his arguments concerning denial of chosen counsel, absence of response to his letters and so on, were "not things which cast doubt on the plea agreement and his declaration of guilt". The Swiss Chief Prosecutor also quoted Kambanda as having said that "the defence is first of all me". "That, Your Honours, gives you the element of proof that he was acting on his own free will," she told the judges. "Let's just suppose that everything he said is true," Del Ponte argued, referring to Kambanda's complaints that he was abandoned by his defence counsel, manipulated by the prosecution and had exhausted all channels of recourse. "Still, it is incomprehensible that, during his appearances in court he said nothing. "Del Ponte said the judges had absolutely nothing to support the defence position, and asked them to confirm Kambanda's sentence. She said he had stopped cooperating with the prosecution after his sentence but believed he might well start cooperating again "some time in the future". JC/FH (KM%0628e)