07.01.08 - ICTR/RWANDA - EX-RWANDAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TROUBLE TO TESTIFY SEVEN FRENCH DIPLOMATS

Arusha, 7 January 2008 (FH) - Former Rwandan Foreign Ministerduring the 1994 genocide, Jerome Bicamumpaka, on trial before the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR), is having trouble to have testify seven French diplomats for the defence.
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In a motion dated 17 December 2007 and which the Hirondelle News Agency obtained a copy Monday, Philippe Larochelle, one of the lawyers of the former minister, accuses Paris of not allowing Bicamumpaka's defence team to meet the French diplomats, in spite of an order of the chamber asking the French government to cooperate.

The lawyer, alleges that the French attitude "deprives Bicamumpaka of an effective defence". He considers that Paris' refusal be brought before the United Nations Security Council.

In an order issued on 26 September, the chamber had called on the French authorities to ensure that the defence of Bicamumpaka meet the seven ambassadors namely Jean-Michel Marlaud, Jacques Depaigne, Jean-Bernard Merimee, and Dominique Pin, Bruno Delaye, Jean-Marc Rochereau de la Sabliere and Daniel Leandri.

Marlaud was ambassador of France to Rwanda during the genocide, Depaigne was to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and Merimee to the United Nations. Four other French officials were then based in Paris, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Interior ministry.

Bicamumpaka alleges that these Frenchmen could support his defence which rests on an alibi. He affirms that after his entry in the interim government on 9 April 1994, he spent most of his time meeting diplomats, in particular Frenchmen, seeking their support in order to put an end to the genocide.

He wants to prove his non-participation in activities that have been alleged to him by prosecution.

The former head of the Rwandan diplomacy is on trial alongside three other members of the interim government, which was driven out of power and the country in July 1994 by the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), currently in power.

Accused of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, the four men have pleaded not guilty.

ER/PB/SC
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