18.09.07 - ICTR/BUTARE - REYTJENS RETURNS TO THE ICTR AT THE REQUEST OF THE DEFENCE

Arusha, 18 September 2007 (FH) - Professor Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian historian specializing in Rwanda who had announced in 2005 his intention not to collaborate furthermore with the prosecution of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as long as it would not have indicted elements of the of the RPF, began Tuesday to testify in favour of an ICTR defendant .
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This defence testimony for Joseph Kanyabashi, the former mayor of Ngoma, should last two weeks. Kanyabashi is on trial with five other persons in the Butare trial which started in June 2001. He has pled not guilty. The Reyntjens' testimony was still at its beginning in early afternoon, before adjournment until Wednesday, while debating on the qualifications of the witness.
 
The Belgian historian, an expert witness in several trials at the ICTR, author of several works on Rwanda and the 1994 genocide, had on 11 January 2005 announced that he would not collaborate furthermore with the services of the prosecutor as long as they would not have indicted members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the former rebellion, in power for the past ten years in Kigali.

In a letter addressed to the prosecutor, he had written that the failure of the ICTR to prosecute those who committed war crimes or crimes against humanity was equivalent to "recognizing victors' justice", and made the ICTR run the risk "of becoming a part of the problem rather than of the solution".
 
He had then reminded that the special investigations had gathered "concordant evidence of many massacres committed by the RPF in 1994". These crimes, he wrote, "are within the framework of the ICTR mandate, they are well documented, the testimonies and the material evidence exists and the identities of the RPF suspects are known". By not prosecuting the RPF, the historian added, the ICTR is missing one of its objectives, "to contribute to the national reconciliation, the restoration and the preservation of peace".
 
In a book recently published, the spokesperson for Carla del Ponte, former prosecutor of the ICTR, tells that these special investigations were abandoned in 2003 on pressure from the United States. The current prosecutor Hassan Jallow retorts, when he is questioned on this subject, that the results of these investigations are under examination.

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