Arusha, July 4, 2002 (FH) - The defence in the case of former militia leader Georges Rutaganda on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR's) Appeal Chamber that their client was treated unfairly during his hearing. Rutaganda's defence told the Chamber that the Trial Chamber that heard his case showed extensive and numerous types of "partiality".

1 min 38Approximate reading time

Judges Claude Jorda, of France (presiding), Mohamed Shahabuddeen of Guyana, Mehmet Guney of Turkey, Fausto Pocar of Italy and Theodor Meron of the US are hearing this appeal. The defence initially appealed against both the verdict and the sentencing that resulted in a life sentence for their client in December 1999. Rutaganda was second Vice-President of the mainly Hutu Interahamwe militia, which is believed to have spearheaded the genocide in which around one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. The Tribunal found Rutaganda guilty on three out of the eight counts against him and sentenced him to life for genocide and crimes against humanity. During the appeal hearing, Rutaganda's counsel, Canadians, David Jacobs and David Paciocco maintained that he was innocent, that the Trial Chamber had committed some errors in law that prejudiced their client, and there were inconsistencies in witness statements. The defence stated that the Chamber showed obvious partiality. "The judges showed obvious impatience to the testimony of Rutaganda - what on earth was the time pressure to do with it?" Jacobs said. He also told the appeal judges that there were a lot of interventions from the Trial Chamber when the defence presented their case, which was not the case for the prosecution. "There was almost a lack of interest (in Rutaganda's evidence) and I'm afraid it shows some sort of prejudgment," Jacobs added. The prosecution argued that the defence did not raise this issue of inconsistencies or make objections during the hearing and that they had opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. The prosecution team in this hearing comprises of Canadian, Norman Farrell; Dane, Mathias Marcussen; Australian, Helen Brady; and Norul Rashid of Singapore. The prosecution maintained that the Trial Chamber did not err in its judgment. Rashid said there was a distinction between active bias and perceived bias and that the defence had used two concepts interchangeably in their presumption of partiality. She added that judges are entitled to "question witnesses and to control proceedings". Rutaganda was arrested in Zambia on October 10th, 1995 and transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha on 26th May, 1996. His trial started in March 1997 and took two years to complete. SW/JA/DO/FH (RU-0704e)