Arusha, 03 February, 2009 (FH) - The trial against Rwandan lawyer Leonidas Nshogoza, charged for contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), is scheduled to begin on February 9 ,according to the ICTR Spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga.

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Nshogoza was accused by a witness of having tried to bribe him in the trial of a former Rwandan Minister for Culture and Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, who was sentenced to life inprisonment in September, 2005.

The commencement of the trial was delayed because of tug of war between the the prosecution and the defence on an appropriate starting trial date.

On October 30, 2008,  ICTR prosecution team led by Ugandan Richard Karegyesa told Judge Khalida Khan of Pakistan, who presided the pre-trial conference, that they were ready to proceed with the case on November 23, as it was orginally proposed by the Chamber, but the defence  rejected it.

The accused's Canadian lawyer, Allison Turner, asked for more time for preparation.

She said among reasons which crippled her from accepting the first proposed date included the fact that she was  appointed recently, on October 13, 2008, and had voluminous documents to go through over the trial.

According to the counsel, she expected to field between 25 and 45 defence witness  and in anycase she needed more time to locate and interview them for the trial. The other reason she claimed was the fact that the porsecution has not yet fulfilled its obligation to release all the exculpatory evidence materials as required by the statute of the ICTR.

At ICTR, a person convicted of contempt of court faces a maximam sentence of five years or a fine of US $ 10,000 or both.

The first victim of this offence was a protected prosecution witness dubbed "GAA" who was sentenced to nine months imprisonment in  December 2007 after being found guilty of contempt of court by the UN Tribunal.


© Hirondelle News Agency