Arusha, February 14, 2001(FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday refused to admit new rape charges in the case against three genocide suspects accused of crimes in Cyangugu prefecture, southwest Rwanda, in 1994. In its decision, the court said it was concerned about the seriousness of the issues raised by the introduction of new charges.

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Presiding judge Lloyd Williams of Jamaica said the decision was based on the principle that the accused must “be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he or she understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him or her”, according to the ICTR Statute. Judge Williams said it would not be fair to the accused to admit the new charges. The court considered that the prosecution had taken a strategic decision not to introduce rape charges at the outset, and that it could not introduce them at this stage. Tanzanian prosecutor Holo Makwaia tried on Tuesday to lead the twenty-second prosecution witness to testify on alleged rape of Tutsi women who had taken refuge in the Kamarampaka stadium in Cyangugu. However, this raised a storm of protest from the defence. The defence pointed out that rape charges did not figure in the indictment and that the prosecution was not acting fairly. The trial groups former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki, former transport minister André Ntagerura who comes from Cyangugu and former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. All three are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. All three havepleaded not guilty. In an oral motion on Wednesday morning, the prosecution argued that it could introduce the element of rape without amending the existing indictment as the defendants were already charged with genocide and that rape was a component of genocide. This argument is based on the ICTR’s 1998 judgement in the case of former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, which recognized for the first time that rape could be part of genocide. However, the court said this was a wrong interpretation of the Akayesu judgement. In that case, it said, the prosecution had been authorized to amend the indictment to include rape charges. The case is being heard by Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judge Williams (presiding), Judge Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Judge Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. AT/JC/FH (cy_0214E)