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Arusha, 4 April 2007 (FH) – The Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) trying the former Rwandan prefect Protais Zigiranyirazo ordered an inquest on the eventuality of a pressure applied on a witness by the defence, as we learnt Wednesday at the ICTR.“The Chamber orders the Registrar to investigate the Prosecutor’s allegations and to present the results of the investigation to the Chamber as soon as possible”, the Presiding Judge Inès Monica de Roca (Argentina) declared. In a request filed on 29 March, the Prosecutor accused the Defence of Zigiranyirazo of having encouraged a witness not to testify about the presence of the former prefect in a certain Kesho, in the West of Rwanda where massacres of Tutsi were committed in April 1994. According to the Prosecutor, the protected witness “RDP 13” wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice in which he stated that he had been threatened by “someone from the Tribunal” to testify in support of Zigiranyirazo.The Prosecutor asks the judges to call the witness at their own initiative in order to make him support his allegations. Zigiranyirazo’s defence, who had the witness RDP 13 on their list, decided to renounce his statement. The Prosecutor affirms that this decision was taken to cover up this incident. According to the Defence, he was withdrawn from the list because “he lied”.The Chamber has declared that it is premature to make the witness RDP 13 appear and indicated that its position will become public at the end of the investigation. The Judges however underlined that they were worried about “the alleged misconduct of the Defence members”. Any attempt by a court officer of affecting the course of justice “pose a problem the Chamber cannot ignore”, they added.Asked by phone, Zigiranyirazo’s principal counsel, John Philpot said that he was “very happy” that an investigation was done about this witness. According to him, this witness had always told the same thing from 2000 until he was imprisoned in Rwanda in 2006. Another witness questioned in this matter denied the presence of Z. at that place, according to him.Recently, the Prosecutor formulated similar allegations against one of the singer Simon Bikindi’s counsel but he was exonerated by a Registry’s investigation.Zigiranyirazo, called Mr. Z, aged 69, a brother-in-law of the former President Juvénal Habyarimana, is prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity. The former prefect of Ruhengeri (north) has pled not guilty. He has called Defence’s witnesses since October 2006.His defence is constituted of two Canadian lawyers: Mr. John Philpot and Mr. Peter Zaduk. The Prosecution team notably includes the Tanzanian Wallace Kapaya, the Burundian Sylvère Ntukamazina and the Irish Ian Morley.AT/PB/CV © Hirondelle News Agency