04.02.08 - ICTR/MILITARY II - PROSECUTOR IS HIDING EVIDENCE, CLAIMS DEFENCE LAWYER

Arusha, 4 February 2008 (FH) - The defence in the trial of four top army officers Monday accused the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr Hassan Jallow, of concealing evidence favourable to their clients.
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The claim was made by Christopher Black, a Canadian lawyer defending General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of Staff of Gendarmerie.

The lawyer alleged that the Prosecutor was holding statements of witnesses attesting that Ndindiliyimana protected ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

He urged the UN Court to impose sanction on the Prosecutor for the scandal. Mr Black also said that he has no confidence in the Gambian-born head of the tribunal.

Mr. Black requested the court allow him to investigate the data base of the Prosecutor. He also sought in the, meantime, suspension of the trial pending completion of his investigations and his client temporarily be
released.

The prosecution's lead attorney Ivorian, Alphonse Van, said that the misunderstanding was because of "problem of interpretation of the issue".

"What the defence lawyer regards as a disculpatory element can be, from the point of view of the prosecution, be accusative," he said.

Van added that if there are testimonies which say that Ndindiliyimana saved Tutsis, they, according to him, are cancelled out by others who accused him of having encouraged the massacres.

Mr Black was supported by his colleagues Charles Taku (Cameroon), Fabien Segatwa (Burundi) and Gilles Saint-Laurent (Canada).

Mr Black added that he has requested results from the investigations into the crimes committed by the former Rwandan rebellion during the genocide, but the prosecution was dilly-dallying. It looks like that the prosecution is protecting the current Kigali regime, he alleged.

The Presiding Judge Sri Lankan, Joseph Asoka de Silva, has ordered the Prosecutor to communicate to the defence all the disculpatory elements in his possession.

On trial since September 2004, General Ndindiliyimana is jointly charged alongside with General Augustin Bizimungu, former chief of staff of the army and Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, both ex-officers in elite units of the former Rwandan army(FAR) posted in the capital, Kigali.

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