Arusha, July 9, 2001 (FH) - The Rwandan government is destabilizing the defence by intimidating its investigators, a lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said on Monday. Lennox Hinds, American counsel for former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli, was speaking after one of his investigators refused to come to the ICTR for fear of the Kigali authorities.

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Rwanda's representative to the ICTR Martin Ngoga strongly denied the allegations. "My concern is that I have a defence team, we are in the middle of a trial," said Hinds, "and what they (Rwandan authorities) are doing is illegal, unjust, unfair and designed to harass, intimidate and unduly influence the outcome of the trial. "Kajelijeli's trial started on July 4th. Hinds said one of his investigators, Augustin Basebya, had been working in Europe and that he (Hinds) had asked the team to be present in Arusha for the start of trial. When Basebya did not come, he said he wanted to know why. He received a letter from the investigator which he said had "shocked and surprised" him. In the letter, which was read out in court on Monday, Basebya says that certain defence team members are "currently undergoing a type of incarceration and intimidation in Arusha". The investigator is an exiled former member of the Rwandan parliament and is on the Kigali government's Category One list of top genocide suspects. Basebya says he is a victim of "monstrous slander and of flagrant injustice" and that the Category One list "has become an instrument to persecute ethnic Hutu or ethnic Tutsi who are opposed to the totalitarian regime in Kigali". He also writes that the current Rwandan government "seems determined to condemn people without first bringing an indictment against them". Hinds pointed the finger particularly at Rwanda's representative to the ICTR Martin Ngoga. "Information that I have," the lawyer told Hirondelle, "is that he is the individual who is indicating the roles that might be played by particular individuals from Rwanda. And in this particular instance, Mr. Basebya was very critical in getting evidence of the illegal arrest of Mr. Kajelijeli. "Basebya has said that he could continue working for Kajelijeli's defence while Hinds replaces him, but only in Europe. He says that he will only come to Arusha if his name is cleared. "He is critical to the defence," Hinds told Hirondelle, "at least with respect to witnesses who are in Europe. He is saying that he cannot continue to function, he cannot come here to Arusha and he has said very clearly in his letter that he would not be able to perform his duties and responsibilities because he is feeling intimidated. And it's affecting us right now. "Hinds has already brought the matter to the attention of the court. "You heard what the judge said in open court, that they have taken notice of this," he told Hirondelle. "But based upon what we have, there isn't anything that the court can do beyond taking notice of this. I think that anyone who is interested in fairness and in justice, all individuals who want fairness ought to be outraged and challenge the régime in Kigali to stop this. "Kigali denies"It is not true that we are harassing the investigators," Rwanda's representative Ngoga told Hirondelle, "because we know how important they are to a fair trial. Also, absolutely no evidence has been produced to support these allegations. "However, Ngoga said that investigators should not be allowed to use their status to avoid punishment if they were guilty. "It is not just a rumour that there are genocide suspects among the investigators," he continued, "because the Tribunal itself has already arrested one. "On May 19th, the ICTR arrested Siméon Nshamihigo, who had been working as a Tribunal defence investigator under a false name, within the premises of the ICTR. Nshamihigo has been charged with three counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In April, Ngoga told the press that three ICTR investigators were on Kigali's Category One list of top genocide suspects. "If we raised that problem," Ngoga told Hirondelle, "we were acting according to our moral obligations. "Asked about the accusation that Kigali was accusing people without an indictment, Ngoga replied that the government's lists of suspects were "drawn up according to the law. Everyone who is on the list has a file and an indictment. And nobody is saying that everyone on that list should be convicted. When someone is accused, they may be convicted or acquitted. Even the ICTR recently acquitted an accused (former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema). "Kajelijeli's case is before Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judge William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. BN/JC/PHD/FH (0710E)