Arusha, 19 July 2007 (FH)-A witness for the prosecution was authorized to testify in spite of allegations of perjury Thursday before of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).  

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Prefect of Gitarama (central Rwanda) in 1994, Fidèle Uwizeye was called in the trial of three leaders of the former ruling party accused of genocide. It is his third time testifying before the ICTR.

The defendants asked the chamber to exclude his testimony, on the basis of statements which he made before the ICTR last year, describing them as perjury.

The defendants in this trial are Matthieu Ngirumpatse, Edouard Karemera and Joseph Nzororera, respectively president, vice-president and secretary-general of the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND), the party of the former President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Opening the onslaught, the lawyer of Nzirorera, Peter Robinson (United States) indicated that Uwizeye had, before a chamber of the ICTR, denied to have been interviewed by a journalist in 1994 in connection with the then events and it has been proven that this was an untrue statement.

"The Prosecutor knows that the witness committed perjury and that he is on the point of doing so again before this chamber", stated Robinson.

"The testimonies containing perjury are a problem in this tribunal. I think that it will affect the legacy of this tribunal as it is known that the witnesses coming from Rwanda perjured themselves", added Robinson.

In his turn, the lawyer of Karemera, Dior Diagne (Senegal), requested of the chamber "to prohibit the access of this witness to this courtroom because the perjury of which he was the author is completely of character".

For his part, the lawyer of Ngirumpatse, Frederic Weyl (France) regretted "the way in which the prosecution proposes and imposes non-credible witnesses to us".

He referred to people without civic rights following a conviction, explaining that they do not have the right of speech. He alleged that the Prosecutor knows that such witnesses do not tell the truth.

"The chamber is imposed witnesses of which the credibility is obviously reduced to nothing, a situation which does not allow for a good administration of justice", he pleaded.

The representative of the prosecution, Don Webster (United States), on his side, stated that "the inconsistencies in the testimony of a witness do not necessarily mean that perjury was committed".

The judges, after deliberation, decided to hear the witness.

The chamber presided by Judge Dennis Byron (Saint-Kitts and Nevis) estimated that "the particular point to which the attention of the chamber was drawn to is not essential compared to the facts of the testimony which this witness should bring".

The judges also indicated that "if this witness perjured himself in the past, it does not mean that the testimony which he is on the point of making would be untrue".

"We will hear the witness and we will appreciate his testimony in the light of the other testimonies", concluded the chamber.

Uwizeye should testify on the activities of the temporary government in place during the genocide in the prefecture of Gitarama.

The government had been established in Murambi, close to Gitarama, in April 1994 fleeing the advances of the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

According to Uwizeye, the government incited to commit genocide in his prefecture. The defendants, who were close to the government, pleaded not guilty.


© Hirondelle News Agency