Arusha, 16 October 2007 (FH)-Defence lawyers in the trial of four officers requested Tuesday an investigation of the prosecution of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), doubting of its independence.   

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Christopher Black (Canada), the lawyer of General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, supported by his colleagues, requested an inquiry commission, acting on mandate from the general assembly of the UN, in order to examine the allegations of interference from the American government in the work of the prosecution.
Black, who made the announcement at the resumption of the trial known as Military II, which had been adjourned since mid-June, bases himself in particular on the book "Paix et Châtiment" (Peace and Punishment) by Florence Hartmann, spokesperson of the former prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.
In this book, Florence Hartmann gives details on the intervention of the American government to the office of the prosecutor, so that it only prosecute former Hutu officials, according to Mr. Black. "Mr. Jallow (NDLR, the current prosecutor) agrees to follow the policy of the American government", affirms Mr. Black. Questioned by the Hirondelle agency after the publication of this book, the spokesperson of the prosecutor affirmed that Mr. Jallow did not have "any knowledge of these discussions or agreement".
The Canadian lawyer, who also refers to a recent letter of the prisoners opposing the transfer of cases to Rwanda, alleges that "the prosecution is trying to grant impunity to the RPF (former Tutsi rebellion in power in Kigali)" suspected of war crimes committed in 1994.
Affirming that Washington is an ally of the RPF, Black adds: "My client was targeted by the RPF, he also feels targeted by the American government which controls the ICTR by the means of the prosecution."
The counsel of the former head of the Rwandan gendarmerie requested the suspension of the trial in order to carry out an investigation.
"My client does not understand why he is here. His rights are being violated. Not only must the prosecutor be sanctioned but also the American government must explain its policies", indicated Mr. Black.
General Ndindiliyimana is accused alongside the chief of staff of the army in 1994, General Augustin Bizimungu, and two officials of the recognition battalion, an elite unit of the former Rwandan army, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu.
Nzuwonemeye's lawyer, Charles Taku (Cameroon), for his part raised the point that two American officials had last year taken a seat at the side of the prosecutor without authorization of the tribunal. He asserted that it was all connected. They had been excused, thereafter, at the request of the defence.
Nzuwonemeye was absent Tuesday due to health reasons.
"In appreciating the prosecution's evidence and the credibility of the witnesses, it will be necessary to take into account the circumstances which were underlined by Taku and Black" stated, for his part, Ronnie MacDonald, the Canadian co-counsel of General Bizimungu.
The president of the chamber, Sri Lankian Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva, indicated that he was going to transmit this motion to the president of the ICTR.
He, however, assured the parties that the judges will examine the evidence in all fairness and independence.
"I assure you that this chamber was approached by nobody. I assure you that we will do our work on the basis of the motions and evidence that we receive", declared Judge De Silva.
The Military II trial began on 20 September 2004. Currently it is General Bizimungu who is presenting his defence. The three accused will follow.

© Hirondelle News Agency