Arusha, June 8th, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has ordered that a sealed memorandum on the death of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana be disclosed to three genocide suspects. The memorandum reportedly contains information suggesting that Habyarimana's death, which sparked the 1994 genocide, was masterminded by the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

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Former mayor of Mabanza Ignace Bagilishema and former military leaders Gratien Kabiligi and Aloys Ntabakuze had requested that it be released, arguing that it could be vital to their defence. They say it could help reveal the truth about the 1994 genocide which left some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. The memorandum was written in 1997 by an Australian investigator who was working for the ICTR prosecution. The Tribunal says he wrote it "on his own initiative" after he had left and was working for the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. Its existence became known after it was leaked to a Canadian newspaper, the National Post, earlier this year. It was sent to the ICTR, whose president put it under seal. In its decision authorizing disclosure of the document to Bagilishema's defence team, judges said that: "irrespective of whether the memorandum will in the event have a bearing on the outcome of the case, the Chamber is of the opinion that to deprive the Defence, at this stage of the trial, to access to specific documentation, which is now in the possession of the Tribunal, may affect the right of the accused in the presentation of his case fully and fairly. "The decision was handed down by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Norwegian judge Erik Mose presiding, Judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka and Judge Mehmet Güney of Turkey. However, it was not unanimous. Judge Güney issued a separate opinion, saying that "my disagreement [with this decision] is based on the absence of sufficient legal and factual elements justifying the handing over of the memorandum to the Defence of the Accused, given that the Defence failed to prove its pertinence to the case in hand. "Judge Güney also says that "this memorandum is not the result of an official investigation carried out by the United Nations on the circumstances surrounding the death of the Rwandan President". Until recently, it was widely believed that Habyarimana's plane was shot down by Hutu extremists in his own regime, opposed to power sharing with the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which took power in July 1994, ending the genocide. Several Hutu genocide suspects held by the ICTR have demanded not only disclosure of the memorandum, but also that the Tribunal order a full investigation into the death of the President. So far, such requests have been turned down. The UN has not so far given any explanation as to why the information in the Hourigan report was not followed up. French examining magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière is currently conducting an investigation into the shooting down of the plane, on behalf of the families of the three French crew members who also died. Among the victims was also the former president of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira. AT/JC/FH (RW%0608E )