Arusha, 4 December 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan witness convicted Monday by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for false testimony had, in a preceding trial in Rwanda, contradicted the testimony for which he was convicted, reports Tuesday a source close to the case.

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Known as GAA, in order to ensure his safety, this witness affirmed Monday before an ICTR chamber that he had been encouraged to lie during the appeal trial to try and clear Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, the former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison.

According to Kamuhanda's lawyer, Aicha Conde, this witness "supported in a trial against him in Rwanda that the version that he had given before the appeals chamber was the good one and that it was in first instance that he had lied".

The French lawyer, in a message to the Hirondelle agency, was astonished that the chamber that convicted GAA did not consider it useful to view the maintenance cassettes of this witness with an investigator and that it did not consider it useful to request the investigation report which had been ordered on this subject in 2005.

Moreover, Conde considers it regrettable that the incrimination by GAA of one of his Rwandan collaborators, Léonidas Nshogoza, did not lead the chamber to request the report nor to even hear the indictment. She, herself, has never even heard it, reports the Hirondelle agency from sources close to the case.

This investigator has been held in Rwanda since June within the framework of this case and the prosecutor has requested 10 years in prison. Pretexting new awaited precisions by the ICTR, the Rwandan court released him last week on bail. According to informed sources, the tribunal would have recently addressed a note to Rwanda requiring that the immunity of the employees of the tribunal be respected.

GAA's judgment, held by the ICTR for 5 months, was quickly organized. The administration of the tribunal was informed Friday afternoon after the closing time of the offices and no publicity was done for this first judgment for false testimony at the ICTR. In spite of a request made by the Tanzanian lawyer, no delay was granted.

© Hirondelle News Agency