Arusha, 10 August 2007 (FH) - The first person indicted for giving false testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) admitted Friday having lied under oath at the time of the appeal of the former minister of higher education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, sentenced to life in prison.

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The witness, a Rwandan simply designated by the pseudonym GAA, has however rejected the charges of contempt of the tribunal and attempt to commit acts punishable as contempt of the tribunal.

GAA, who has testified against Kamuhanda at the time of the first instance trial in 2001, had retracted and cleared the former minister at the time of the appeal trial in 2005.

"I gave a false testimony (at the time of the appeal trial). It is the only charge which I recognize. I asked for forgiveness, I continue to be sorry ", acknowledged Friday GAA, expressing himself in Kinyarwanda.

The indictment submitted on 23 March 2007 charges him of contempt of the tribunal for knowingly and wilfully interfering with its administration of justice.

The text finally alleges that the defendant attempted to suborn false testimony under solemn declaration from four witnesses or potential witnesses.

"I did not have the means to commit these acts", said GAA, upright behind the opaque curtains, for his initial appearance, before Judge Dennis Byron, President of the ICTR.

The tribunal will have to examine the partial admission and hold a trial relative to the rejected charges.

GAA had explained to the appeal judges in the Kamuhanda case 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, who also testified in appeal, denied.

Following these proceedings, the appeal chamber ordered an investigation into the matter.

The prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, had entrusted this work to a foreign lawyer at the tribunal, American Loretta Lynch, whose report led to the indictment of GAA.

According to the rules of procedure and evidence of the ICTR, false testimony under solemn declaration is liable to a fine not exceeding 10 000 US dollars or to a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison or both.

© Hirondelle News Agency