The Hague, 2 2008 (FH) - In her book titled "The Hunt: Me and My War Criminals", the former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR ) Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, describes her mandate as the head of the UN Rwanda tribunal between 1999 and 2002, including investigations concerning allegations of crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in 1994.

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This book will be out on Thursday in Italy and is published by Feltrinelli. An English version is expected to be ready early next year.

"We knew that to open an investigation into the Rwandan Patriotic Front will irritated Kigali, because President Paul Kagame and other Tutsi leaders based a great part of their claim to legitimacy on the victory of the RPF against the genocidaires in 1994," writes Carla del Ponte.

"They presented their conquest of the country as a just fight, to put an end to genocide", she adds.

"We knew that the government was against us", she says. In spite of that as of 2000, the prosecution opened a "secret" investigation.

"Rwandan authorities already controlled each stage of our investigations", she writes. "We knew that the intelligence service of Rwanda had received monitoring equipment from the United States which was used for phone calls, faxes and the internet. We suspected that the authorities had also infiltrated our computer network and placed agents among the Rwandan interpreters and other members of the team in Kigali.

Walpen [Laurent Walpen, former chief of investigations for the prosecution] also knew that the United States, for obvious reasons, did not want that the investigators to be equipped with the latest encryption Swiss telephones. In other words, the Rwandans knew, in real time, what the investigators of the tribunal were doing.

"In Kigali, 9 December 2000 I personally informed President Kagame that the office of the prosecutor had opened a case against him for allegations concerning the Rwandan Patriotic Front, for war crimes committed as Hutus committed the genocide. The meeting took place in his modest office of the presidential complex (...) the investigators say that evidence was collected on 13 episodes during which in 1994 members of the RPF would have massacred civilians as troops advanced through Rwanda. Kagame neither approved nor denied that these incidents had taken place", Del Ponte discloses.

Carla del Ponte then proposed to start with the case of the murdered priests in Gakurazo and ended up convincing, at least she believed so, the Rwandan president will cooperate. With the chief of investigations, the Swiss woman went to the office of the military prosecutor. "Rwigamba was in uniform, very courteous. Rather than to agree to give us documentation, Rwigamba informed us that he was leading the investigations and was not under the jurisdiction of the tribunal, the co-operation was not always forthcoming." I imagine that before calling President Kagame, she writes, if he did it, Rwigamba spoke with his military superiors, including the former commanders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front who had reasons to fear seeing their name on an arrest warrant.

In 2001, Rwanda blocked once again the transfer of witnesses to Arusha, Tanzania (the seat of the tribunal). New procedures had been set up by Kigali: A "ridiculous" case of bureaucracy says Carla del Ponte, who only understood later the real subject of the pressure. At a new meeting with President Kagame, she complains: "Your military prosecutor is not cooperating (...) Kagame seemed surprised. He turned to the officer and said to him in a hard tone: "Cooperate with prosecutor del Ponte." Rwanda never cooperated again.

Carla del Ponte does not describe the episode already stated in the book of her former spokesperson, Florence Hartmann, and which had been revealed by the journalist Pierre Hazan, since 2002, in the newspaper Le Temps, during which, then Ambassador for War Crimes in Washington, American Pierre-Richard Prosper, would have forced her to suspend her investigations. And she is silent over the last months of her mandate, in August 2002, on the "pressures" which she had, furtively, said "to have undergone" on behalf of the members of the United Nations. In her book, Carla del Ponte is silent on many episodes concerning the ICTR as well as the ICTY.

Describing the attack during which the former Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was killed on 6 April 1994, and which had sparked the beginning of the massacres, Carla del Ponte regards that it was not to be the subject of an investigation on behalf of the prosecution. "The answer was no, and for good reasons. Louise Arbour (ex- ICTR Prosecutor) made an analysis of the attack and concluded that, even if the prosecutor was able to show that the fall of the plane came from the Tutsis, it would have been difficult to initiate a procedure before the tribunal against the people responsible for the assassination of the president, a crime is not necessarily a war crime and the jurisdiction of the tribunal was limited to war crimes in the broad sense".

She however mentions her co-operation with the French anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who in November 2006 issued nine arrest warrants and requested from the Security Council to refer to the international tribunal the case of the Rwandan President.

For the Swiss woman, it was advisable to know if the attack was the prelude, or not, of a war crime. "The prosecutor, in my opinion, could have proven that the assassination of President Habyarimana constituted a war crime if he had been able to show that the people who shot down the plane calculated that this act would start a genocide which would make it possible to draw a political advantage from it. This scenario is so machiavelic that it is perhaps difficult to imagine it. Many Rwandans, in particular many Hutus, desired an answer to this mystery."

Carla del Ponte does not raise it, but cooperates with the French judge. On 17 May 2002, she meets with judge Bruguiere at a military airport, near Paris. The judge placed his witnesses under protection, but encountered difficulties. "There were difficulties because the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine, was not ready to continue to offer them protection." Several other witnesses were then in the Republic of Congo and Uganda. Some are extruded from Rwanda. "The office of the prosecutor tried to ensure a protected transit of other potential witnesses who wanted to leave Rwanda."


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