Arusha, October 26, 2001 (FH) - Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday heard for a second time a Prosecutor's motion alleging contempt of the Tribunal by defence investigators in the so-called Butare case. Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR rejected a similar motion in the same case last July 10th, but the Prosecutor has reintroduced the motion with "new elements".

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The Butare trial groups former Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. Two of the accused -- Nyiramasuhuko and Ndayambaje -- have been boycotting the court since last Thursday to protest a court decision they say violates their rights. On Friday, prosecutors Silvana Arbia of Italy and Gregory Townsend of the US reiterated their previous claims that defence investigators had gone to Rwanda where they tried to intimidate prosecution witnesses and obtain information under false pretences. This, says the prosecution, constitutes contempt of the Tribunal. The motion targets members of the defence team of former Ngoma mayor Joseph Kanyabashi. The previous motion, which was rejected, also targeted defence team members of former Butare prefect Sylvain Nsabimana. Kanyabashi's Canadian lawyer Michel Marchand said the alleged facts were "utterly improbable" and urged the court to sanction the Prosecutor for introducing a frivolous motion. In its July 10th decision, the court had issued a warning to the prosecution. Nsabimana's Cameroonian co-counsel Charles Tchakounte Patié told the court that the new motion was the same as the old one, and should therefore be thrown out on the grounds that a decision had already been handed down. Ntahobali's Kenyan lawyer Duncan Mwanyumba reminded the court that the ICTR had sacked his investigator Thaddée Kwitonda saying Kwitonda was under investigation by the Prosecutor. He concluded that there was a concerted effort to destabilize the defence. AT/JC/PHD/FH (BT1026E)