Arusha, 12 June 2007 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) issued Monday an indictment against a Rwandan witness accused of having given false testimony in the trial of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research sentenced to life imprisonment, it was learned on Tuesday.  

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Judge Jai Ram Reddy (Fiji) confirmed the indictment and issued a warrant for arrest of the witness code named GAA.

This is the Tribunal's first prosecution for contempt of court and false testimony. The case arises out of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor on the direction of the Appeals Chamber when it upheld the conviction of Kamuhanda on 19 September 2005. Witnesses in the trial were allegedly induced to give false testimony under oath.

Witnesses in this trial would have been pressured to give false testimonies under oath, points out the text. The confirming judge issued the indictment on the basis of the written material submitted by the Prosecutor.

According to the Rules of Evidence and Procedure of the ICTR, "false testimony under oath is liable to a fine not exceeding 10 000 US dollars or to a prison sentence of a maximum of 5 years or both".

At the time of Kamuhanda's appeal trial, in May 2005, GAA who had testified against the former minister in his first instance trial, changed sides and testified for the defense. He explained in front of the appeal judges that a woman, also a witness in that trial and designated by the code name GEK, had involved him in a smear campaign against Kamuhanda, which the woman, also heard in appeal, denied.

Mrs. GEK, on the contrary, accused two people who had presented themselves to her as ICTR agents, pertaining to the service of the protection of witnesses. She stated that they had tried to obtain her retraction after her preceding testimony.

Following these hearings, the Appeal Chamber had ordered the opening of an investigation. The official statement of the Prosecutor does not state the charges against the members of the ICTR.

The Chief-Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, had entrusted this work to a foreign lawyer at the court, American Loretta Lynch. The results of this investigation were initially to be made public but finally remained secret in spite of several requests, in particular, by the Registrar.

© Hirondelle News Agency