Arusha, 15 October 2008 (FH) - A Rwandan convicted for false testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (TPIR) could return before the UN-backed Tribunal as a prosecution witness in the trial of a lawyer charged for contempt of court.

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Designated by the code name "GAA" to protect his identity, this witness, sentenced last year to nine months after pleading guilty, was released in March after serving his sentence.

According to a motion filed by the prosecutor, a copy of which Hirondelle Agency obtained Wednesday, GAA, the only person to date convicted for false testimony, was on the prosecution's witness list in the not yet opened trial of Leonidas Nshogoza of Bar of Kigali.

Arrested in August 2007, GAA admitted to have made a false testimony at the time of the Appeal in 2005 in the trial of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, former Minister for Higher Education, who was sentenced to life in prison.

During the appeal hearing, the witness had reconsidered statements made before the first instance court.

According to the prosecutor, the reversal was the fruit of a subornation campaign carried out by Mr Nshogoza towards GAA and other witnesses.

The indictment against the Rwandan lawyer alleges that he knowingly and deliberately interfered with the course of justice and tried to hinder it by meeting without authorization protected prosecution witnesses and making them sign false statements. The text adds that he promised bribes in exchange of these testimonies.

The facts would have taken place in Kigali and Gasabo (a suburb of Kigali) as well as in Arusha, between on 1 March 2004 and on 31 May 2005.

Following several allegations of false testimony during Kamuhanda's appeal, the judges had ordered an investigation which the prosecutor had entrusted to an American lawyer, Loretta Lynch.

Kamuhanda's defence team was astonished that the report was written without interviewing the accused, Rwandan lawyer, or the lead counsel of the former minister.

At his surrender at the ICTR, on 5 February, Mr Nshogoza, told the press that he had come "so that justice could be done". During his initial appearance six days later before Judge Dennis Byron, he again claimed his innocence by pleading not guilty.

In June 2007, he was arrested by Rwandan police for similar acts, before being released on bail five months later.

At the ICTR, a person convicted of contempt faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a fine of 10, 000 American dollars or both.


© Hirondelle News Agency