A FORMER PREFECT WOULD HAVE ASKED FOR FORGIVENESS FOR HAVING TESTIFIED FOR THE DEFENCE- LAWYER

Arusha, 25 July 2007 (FH - ICTR/KAREMERA)-A lawyer alleged Wednesday that a former prefect called by the prosecution in the trial of three politicians would have asked the Rwandan authorities for forgiveness for having testified for the defence in a case before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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The former prefect of Gitarama (central Rwanda), Fidèle Uwizeye, has been at the stand since Thursday. He had, previously, testified in the trial of four former ministers and in that of former Mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, one of his subordinates in 1994.
 
Frederic Weyl (France), the lawyer of the former president of the former ruling party in Rwanda, Matthieu Ngirumpatse, one of the defendants, suggested that Uwizeye "had excused himself" to the Attorney General of Rwanda after having been a witness for the defence, in March 1998, in the Akayesu trial. Similar excuses would have also been made to the deputy prosecutor of the ICTR, according to Weyl.
 
Akayesu was convicted to the life in prison by the ICTR and is serving his sentence in Mali.
 
Fidèle Uwizeye admitted having contacted these authorities but denied that the reason was to request forgiveness from them.
 
"When I went to see these persons, it was to protest against the behaviour of Akayesu's lawyer and not to ask for forgiveness for anything", he stated.
 
Fidèle Uwizeye accused the former president of the Bar association of the Central African Republic, Nicolas Tiangaye, who represented Akayesu, of "having used trickery to obtain my presence at the tribunal".
 
The former prefect affirmed that he had come "without knowing if I was a witness for the defence or for the prosecution".
 
Two months after having testified in favour of Akayesu, Uwizeye was arrested and held for 21 months in Rwanda. Basing himself on a document from Amnesty International, Weyl argued that this arrest was related to the testimony in the Akayesu case.
 
Fidèle Uwizeye answered that even if he had, of his own volition, evoked that testimony during his short interrogation the allegations against him had rather to do with "national security" issues.
 
The witness explained that Hutu "infiltrators" were close to the capital and that he had been suspected by the government of being aligned with them. He indicated that the investigation had cleared him.
 
Weyl implied that Uwizeye had later refused to appear at the request of the defence of the former Minister of Finance, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, also convicted to the life in prison by the ICTR.
 
According to Weyl, Uwizeye would not have testified because he feared reprisals from the Rwandan government.
 
The witness denied that accusation and indicated that the defence of the former minister had, rather, not observed official procedure.
 
"If one had asked me (officially) to testify in that trial, I would have testified", he said; adding that Ndindabahizi was his friend.
 
Weyl also tried to establish that Fidèle Uwizeye had come to testify for the prosecution in this case with the consent of his supervising minister. The witness replied that as a civil servant, he had asked his minister for permission to come but that if he had been on leave he would have come without asking.
 
Uwizeye is a director in the department of geology and mines in a ministry in Kigali.
 
His cross examination by Weyl was marked at some moments by a relative tension, the lawyer reproaching him of being "a tough witness for defence"
 
"When we ask you questions, you bring up intolerable assertions and when you are put in an uncomfortable position, you say: I do not remember ". The witness replied that he had answered all the questions in good faith.
 
Ngirumpatse is accused along with Edouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively vice president and secretary-general of the former ruling party in Rwanda. Their trial started in September 2005. They have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity.
 
AT/MM
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