Arusha, 12 March 2009 (FH) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sanctions, Canadian lawyer, Allison Turner a fine of 5,000 US dollars for failure to comply with the orders of the Chamber and for her misconduct during court proceedings.

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Turner is a lead Defence Counsel for Rwandan lawyer, Leonidas Nshogoza on trial for contempt of court at UN tribunal since February 9, 2009.

According to the decision issued on March 11, the Counsel, failed to comply with Chamber's order to reduce the number of witnesses she wished to represent her client from 22 to 10, despite the earlier warnings that she could face possible sanctions if not implemented.

‘'The Chamber considers that the Defence failure to file the reduced list of witnesses amounts to flagrant disregard of its orders, obstructs the proceedings, and is contrary to the interests of justice,'' insisted the decision, a copy of which was made available to Hirondelle News Agency.

Also during proceedings on Monday and Wednesday this week, the Chamber had repeatedly warned Counsel Turner for the unacceptable manner she was addressing the court but would not obey.

On this particularly issue the decision clarified that ‘' during the course of proceedings, the Chamber has found it necessary to caution Defence Counsel that her tone and language in addressing the Bench was not acceptable, and that she should proceed in a manner that is not insulting.''

Accordingly the three-man Chamber under the leadership of its President Khalida Khan of Pakistan firstly directed the Registrar to retrieve the 5,000 US dollars penalty from Counsel Turner.

The Registrar was further instructed to seek the approval from the ICTR President to communicate Defence Counsel Turner's misconduct to the professional body that regulates the conduct of counsel in her State of admission.

Following such recent development the defence case of Nshogoza schedule to commence Monday this week could not take of two times in three days, forcing the Chamber to adjourn the trial sine die.

The prosecution completed its case on February 19, 2009 after presenting five witnesses.

This is the first time for the ICTR to imposes a fine to a counsel who fails to comply with its orders and misconduct during court proceedings since its establishment.

Nshogoza has been accused of having tried to subvert court of justice in the trial of a former Rwandan Minister for Education and Culture, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda who is now serving life imprisonment after he was convicted for genocide in 2004.

The defendant is alleged to have tried to bribe prosecution witnesses to retract their statements in favor of Kamuhanda whose trial by then employed the accused as its investigator.

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