Arusha, August 18, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has reversed a decision to sack Media Trial defence investigator Aloys Ngendahimana, admitting that it may have mistakenly identified him as one of Rwanda’s top genocide suspects. Ngendahimana, an investigator for genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana, was one of four investigators whom the ICTR sacked in July, saying they were either on Kigali’s Category One list of genocide suspects or under investigation by the Tribunal Prosecutor for involvement in the 1994genocide.

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Defence lawyers working with Ngendahimana maintained that the person on the Category One list bore the same name but was not the same person. They said they had evidence to that effect and that the ICTR had not consulted them before announcing its decision. Tribunal Registrar Adama Dieng of Senegal initially stood his ground. However, on August 17th, the Registrar said there was now reliable information indicating the possibility that Ngendahimana and the person under investigation by the Rwandan authorities are namesakes. The ICTR also states that the present information available to the Registrar cannot "confirm that the person sought by the Rwandan authorities is in fact the investigator from Ferdinand Nahimana's defence team”. "The decision not to renew Mr Ngendahimana's contract is therefore rescinded," the statement said. Reacting to the news, Ngendahimana told Hirondelle on the telephone from Belgium: “It is regrettable that the decision has come too late, whereas the information should have been verified before deciding to terminate my contract. I find it regrettable that an institution like the ICTR takes lightly accusations as serious as genocide. ”Ngendahimana said he felt it would be difficult for him to sue the ICTR for having tarnished his name. He said he simply hoped it would be more careful from now on, “and above all not trust Kigali which wants to get people arrested no matter how”. The decision to reinstate Ngendahimana came just before the August 20th resumption of the Media Trial after the judicial recess. The other three ICTR defence investigators sacked in July are: Augustin Basebya, who worked for the defence team of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli; Augustin Karera, who worked for the team of former minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda; and Thaddée Kwitonda, who was an investigator for presumed ex-militia leader Arsène Shalom Ntahobali. Some sources at the ICTR indicate that Karera was previously arrested and jailed in Rwanda but was then released for lack of evidence. SW/BN/JC/MBR/FH (RE0818e)