Arusha, 11 February 2008 (FH) - Leonidas Nshogoza, a Rwandan lawyer, Monday pleaded not guilty to four counts of contempt of court before the UN Court trying key suspects of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Nshogoza is accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Office of the Prosecution (OTP) of bribing at least six witnesses during the trial of the former Rwandan Minister for Culture and Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda.

However, Kamuhanda's fate has already been sealed after he was sentenced to imprisonment for remainder of his life in 2004. Mr Kamuhanda also lost his appeal in 2000, when the Court upheld the sentence.

The prosecution claims that Nshogaza attempted to procure false information, met protected witnesses, interfered with justice process and promised witnesses bribery at different times in Kigali, Gasaba and Arusha
between March 2004 and May 2005.

Mr Nshogoza, who last week surrendered himself to the UN Court in Arusha, maintained his innocence as he retorted "not guilty" after every charge was read out to him.

The attorney for the accused, Allison Turner, told the court that "this is a fairly complicated case...it will be more than what meets the eye."

In the light of the ICTR launching its own case, she asked the Presiding Judge Dennis Byron to order the withdrawal of another similar case against his client pending in Rwanda.

However, Judge Byron asked the attorney to put her request in writing for consideration.

He has also asked the Registry to set the date for hearing of the trial.

Last Monday, ICTR made public the arrest warrant issued against the lawyer.

Mr Nshogoza until his arrest, worked as an investigator in the defence team of Emmanuel Rukundo, a Catholic Priest on trial before the ICTR.

The lawyer was arrested in June by Rwandan authorities, but about six months later was released on bail, pending details from the ICTR.

© Hirondelle News Agency