Arusha, May 21, 2003 (FH) - The former chiefofstaff of the Rwandan gendarmerie, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, has demanded that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) order his release and drop all charges brought against him, because of what he calls “policy of selective prosecution” by Carla el Ponte, the ICTR prosecutor. General Ndindiliyimana, 60, was arrested in Belgium on January 29, 2000 and jointly charged with three other officers of the former Rwanda Armed Forces (FAR) in what is known as the “military 2” case.

1 min 53Approximate reading time

They are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges. In a press release sent to Hirondelle news agency, Ndindiliyimana's Canadian lawyer, Christopher Black, said that he filed a motion on behalf of his client because they considered that del Ponte abused the process “by which only members of the former Hutu majority regime in Rwanda are targeted for prosecution while Tutsis, belonging to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its allies, who have committed similar war crimes as those alleged against the Hutus, including genocide, are granted effective immunity from prosecution”. Black explains that even though the prosecutor has conducted investigations into the alleged crimes, by members of the RPF, not one indictment has been brought against any of them. Ndindiliyimana's lawyer continues that Carla Del Ponte's policy “has no legitimate criminal justice objective, only a political one. . . The role of the Prosecutor, currently in breach of her mandate under the statue of the tribunal, should be referred back to the Security Council to seek clarifications of its intentions and provide instructions to the tribunal with respect to all those who committed war crimes in Rwanda during the events of 1994”. In order to keep on course with the tribunal's mandate that expires in 2008, the prosecutor will put a lid on her investigations in 2004. This has pushed her to drastically alter her programme on the number of investigation she intended to conduct, reducing them from the initial 136 to 14. Ten more investigations are under way. Last year, the prosecutor was severely criticised by Rwanda when she reaffirmed her intentions to pursue some members of the current military, arguing that “a crime is a crime”, adding that she saw no reason why she should not conduct her investigations if they lay within the bounds of the mandate of the Tribunal which covers the whole of 1994. Last November, Del Ponte told British Members of Parliament that Rwanda's reluctance to cooperate with the ICTR, emanated from those investigations in which, she accused, the Rwandan government was unwilling to render any help whatsoever. Apart from Ndindiliyimana, the second military trial also groups together the former chiefofstaff of the FAR, General Augustin Bizimungu, and two commanding officers in the reconnaissance battalion, Major François Xavier Nzuwonemeye and captain Innocent Sagahutu. The first military trial, currently in progress, groups together four senior officers of the FAR, including the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, colonel Theoneste Bagosora. KN/AT/CE/FH (ML'0521A)