Arusha, November 27, 2001 (FH) - A lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is asking judges to declare Rwanda's First Deputy Prosecutor Rukira wa Muhizi in contempt of the Tribunal for intimidating defence witnesses. "The results of these acts of intimidation and harassment has had a chilling effect on our potential defence witnesses in Rwanda," says Lennox Hinds, American defence lawyer for genocide suspect Juvénal Kajelijeli, "and has cast a net of fear and anxiety among all of our defence witnesses in the Ruhengeri prison.

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"In an "extremely urgent" motion to the court trying his client, Hinds alleges that Muhizi was present in the vicinity when he (Hinds) was interviewing potential witnesses in Ruhengeri prison, northwest Rwanda, and that the First Deputy Prosecutor threatened them. He attaches the sworn statements of two of the potential witnesses. Hinds also says he complained to Rwandan Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo on September 30th, but received no reply. He wrote again on November 21st. Hinds alleges that: "On or about November 14, 2001, Counsel for Mr. Kajelijeli was informed by a confidential source (…) that notwithstanding my initial complaint of the threats and intimidation ofSeptember 26, 2001, that First Deputy Prosecutor Rukira wa Muhizi has continued his pattern of harassment, threats and intimidation of potential defence witnesses. ""Washing his car"Hinds says he visited Ruhengeri prison in September to meet and interview potential defence witnesses, with the authorization of the ICTR and the Rwandan authorities. "Although these witnesses are protected witnesses (…), their identities had to be revealed to officials at the Prison and the Ministry of Justice to enable us to interview them," hesays. "On September 25, 2001, the first day of my interviews, there was no incident. However, on the second day, September 26, 2001, two potential defense witnesses informed me that they were subject to direct threats andintimidation by First Deputy Prosecutor Rukira wa Muhizi. "Hinds says he immediately reported the matter to various ICTR and Rwandan authorities. "Subsequently," his motion continues, "Mr. Rukira wa Muhizi visited me at the Muhabura Hotel and denied making any threats and indicated that the inmates (of Ruhengeri prison) had an animus against him, since he was responsible for prosecuting their cases. He did admit being in the remote area of the prison where we were assigned an interview room. His explanation was that he was there to wash his car. "One of the potential witnesses in Ruhengeri prison cited by Hinds said that he/she was in jail charged with committing genocide in Kinigi commune (Ruhengeri prefecture) in 1991, but has not so far been charged in connection with the events of 1994. "On September 25, 2001, as I was waiting to be interviewed with other prisoners, I noticed the First Deputy Prosecutor Augustin Rukira wa Muhizi, " says the prisoner, "and he asked us whether we were planning to testify in the Kajelijeli's case and we did not answer and he told us that we would assume the consequences of what we aredoing. "I was frightened and immediately informed Professor Hinds, since Augustin Rukira wa Muhizi is responsible for my case file," continues the sworn statement. "Committing suicide"The other potential witness whose statement is attached to the motion says he/she has been sentenced to death for the crime of genocide in 1994. According to Hinds, the case is on appeal. "I was waiting to be interviewed (…) and First Deputy Prosecutor Augustin Rukira wa Muhizi who was standing in front of the interview room near a parked vehicle, told me that if I agreed to testify in Kajelijeli's case, that he would have me transferred far from Ruhengeri, so that my family would not be able to visit me and would not know where I would beimprisoned. I felt threatened and decided not to speak with the defence counsel. Instead, I decided to inform Professor Hinds. I feel that I am committing suicide by talking to the lawyers for Kajelijeli. ""If true," says Hinds in his motion, "these allegations are serious and threaten the integrity of the Tribunal and Mr. Kajelijeli's right to a fair trial (…) Furthermore, threats and intimidation of witnesses constitute a criminal offense in most jurisdictions. "As an alternative remedy to holding the First Deputy Prosecutor in contempt of the Tribunal, Hinds asks that the court "hold an evidentiary hearing on the issues and in the interim issue an Order enjoining First Deputy Prosecutor, Mr. Rukira wa Muhizi, from contacting any of Mr. Kajelijeli's witnesses without the presence of Mr. Kajelijeli's counsel. "Kajelijeli's trial restarted on Monday before the ICTR. The former mayor of Mukingo, Ruhengeri prefecture, has denied 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Prosecution maintains he instigated, planned and participated in the killing of ethnic Tutsi in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. The case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar. The court has not yet set a date for the hearing of this motion. JC/DO/FH (KJ1127e)