Arusha, 10 June 2008 (FH) - Leonidas Nshogoza, a Rwandan indicted at the beginning of February for contempt at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, still does not have a lawyer to defend himself.

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In a letter addressed to the Registrar of the Tribunal last month, the accused reminded of the tribunal's obligation to provide him with a lawyer without any undue delay.

Defendants at the ICTR, all considered as being indigent, are provided with a lawyer from a special list maintained by the Registry. The accused provides names of three possible counsels and the Registry would approve one of them.

Nshogoza was accused by a witness of having tried to bribe him in the trial of a former Rwandan Education and Culture Minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, who was sentenced to life in prison in September 2005. Indicted in Rwanda, he was imprisoned there for several months before coming to Arusha, where he was at once charged and detained. He was then a member of Father Emmanuel Rukundo's defence team. Rukondo was the former Military Chaplain.

A Canadian lawyer, Allison Turner, had acted as a defence counsel during the initial period, but her contract was terminated by the registry. The registrar proposed to Mrs Turner a payment of 50 000 USD as expenses incurred by the defence.

"This is stumbling point which has a direct impact on Nshogoza", she explained to the Hirondelle Agency, shortly before her departure to Montreal. According to her, the registry failed to fulfil its obligations by not officially naming her as a counsel.

A lead lawyer before the ICTR is remunerated approximately 100 USD per hour, but the assessment of its work, apart from the hearings, was always prone to debates and negotiations.

For the period 2005-2007, the cost of the defence accounted for 8.4% of the budget of the Tribunal (21 million USD), compared to 24% for the prosecution (60 million USD).


© Hirondelle News Agency