Arusha, 31 March 2008 (FH) - The defence of former Rwandan Military Chaplain Father Emmanuel Rukundo has accused the prosecutor of having endangered one of its witnesses who had come to Arusha for testimony under a pseudonym for protection purposes.

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More than a month after the accusation and requests from the Hirondelle Agency to the prosecutor's spokesperson for a comment over the issue, the latter has not yet responded.

The witness, code-named " BLP" had testified in November 2006 for the prosecution but had retracted at the beginning of 2007, points out Allison Turner, co-counsel of Rukundo during the closing arguments in February.

After the retraction, the defence requested that he be re-called to the stand. Following the request, the prosecutor allegedly under the pretext of an investigation, contacted the Rwandan authorities and asked precise questions which revealed in a very clear manner the identity of BLP to Kigali authorities", she lamented.

The lawyer pointed out that the ICTR Appeals Chamber had expressly ordered that this kind of investigation could not take place "if it brought a reasonable person to conclude that the subject of the investigation is the witness".

"The prosecutor has put in danger the life and safety of its own witness. He [witness} communicated information relating to him to the Rwandan authorities", stated the attorney.

Rukundo's trial has been wrapped up and a judgement is awaited.

Rukundo has denied the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the 1994 killings.

According to the UN estimates, about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter.


© Hirondelle News Agency