Arusha, 4 December, 2008 (FH)-The Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has censured conduct of Peter Robinson of United States, lead of counsel of genocide accused Joseph Nzirorera, and has ordered that his behaviour be communicated to the professional body of his country of origin.

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The Chamber also noted that the counsel has been filing improperly motions which exploit the method of remuneration adopted by the Tribunal.

"Moreover, it presents unreasonable burdens on the Chamber and other Parties. The Chamber is satisfied that this is not coincidental but is typical and strategic,'' stated the presiding Judge, Dennis Byron (St.Kitts and Nevis), adding that the court was also satisfied that the motions demonstrate an intention to unreasonably delay and impede the trial process.

"Persistent failure to comply with the related orders obstructs the proceedings and is contrary to the interests of justice. It is also contrary to the code of professional conduct for defence counsel," added the motion. Mr Robinson was not available for a comment as he was reportedly in the United States.

The Chamber in a decision released on 2 December, also directed that fees related to abusive and redundant process be denied to the counsel and directed the Registry accordingly.

In the decision, which was supported unanimously by two other judges-Gberdao Gustav Kam (Burkina Faso) and Vagn Joensen(Denmark)-the Chamber also dismissed a request for extention of time for witnesses of Nzirorera, former Secretary General of the then ruling MRND party.

"It is considered that the accused had abundant time and facilities for preparation of his defence and that there are no exceptional circumstances that warrant a reconsideration of its order," noted the judges.

"The order is denied and declared to be abusive of the process," stressed the ruling.

The Chamber has also denied Nzirorera's application to summon four witnesses to be part of his witness list, including Faustin Twagiramungu, who was Prime Minister from 1994 until his resignation in 1995, the first head of government appointed after the Rwandese Patriotic Front captured Kigali. Twagiramungu currently lives in exile in Belgium.

Twagiramungu stood as an independent candidate in the Rwandan presidential election of 2003.

The Chamber also denied Nzirorera's motion for a video-link testimony on grounds that the judges were unable to know if the witness would be part of the accused's final list.

Nzirorera is jointly tried with two other top MRND leaders Mathieu Ngirumpatse (President) and former party's Vice-President, Edouard Karemera.

The hearing of defence case of three former party leaders during the 1994 Rwandan genocide which got stuck for two sessions due in last three months due to persistent ill health of Ngirumpatse (61), was now set to continue on 2 February, 2009. At the time adjournment, it was the defence of Karemera which was presenting its case.

All three accused have pleaded not guilty to 1994 genocide and crimes against humanity.

The first trial, which started in November 2003, was canceled in May 2004 amid allegations of impartiality by the former presiding judge, compelling the case to restart on September 19, 2005.


© Hirondelle News Agency