Arusha, 6 March 2009 (FH) - The defence begins its case on Monday in the trial of Leonidas Nshogoza, a Rwandan lawyer, accused of contempt of court, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The prosecution completed its case on 19 February after presenting five witnesses. The trial began on 9 February.

The defence initially said that it would present more than 40 witnesses, but the Chamber in its decision dated 23rd February, directed that only ten defence witnesses would be allowed to testify.

However, Nshogoza's Lead Counsel, Alison Turner, protested the low number of witnesses, and asked the Chamber to reconsider its decision.

On 26 February, the Chamber responded by maintaining their position, but said that the only additional witness who could be allowed would be the accused himself.

Nshogoza has been accused of having tried to subvert court of justice in the trial of a former Rwandan Minister for Culture and Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, who was sentenced to imprisonment for remainder of his life in 2004 and a year later it was re-confirmed by the UN Appeals Court.

Nshogoza is alleged to have tried to bribe prosecution witnesses to retract their statements.

At ICTR, a person convicted of contempt of court faces a maximum 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