Arusha, 19 March 2009 (FH) - The second defence witness in the case of former Rwandan lawyer, accused of contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Leonidas Nshogoza, Thursday alleged that she, together with another witness, received up-keep allowances for their families from the accused before they traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, in 2005 to retract their testimonies before the UN Appeals Court.

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The witness, dubbed "A7" to protect her identity for security reasons, revealed that she and, another protected witness codenamed "GAA", received money from Nshogoza in Kigali before they traveled to retract their testimonies.

‘'Nshogoza gave me money to leave at home for my family,'' The witness told Trial Chamber III, presided by Pakistan Judge, Khalida Khan.

On the other hand, the witness also admitted that the Tribunal's Witness and Victim Support Section (WVSS) also gave them part of their up-keep allowances before they traveled and received the balance after they completed their evidence.

‘'Nshogoza handed over to me and number One (GAA) 20,000 Rwandan Francs( about 40 US Dollars),'' claimed witness "A7" in response to the question asked by ICTR prosecuting counsel, Abdoulaye Seye, during cross examination.

Normally, all witnesses who come to testify at the Tribunal from both, the defence and the prosecution, their travel expenses, up-keep allowances for their families at home during the period of testimony are handled by the WVSS.  

The witness elaborated further that each time she met with the accused in Kigali, the defendant by then an investigator in the trial of the former Rwandan minister for Education and Culture, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, would provide her with meals, drinks and 5,000 Rwandan Francs (about 10 US Dollars) ostensibly for her transport expenses.

Nshogoza has been accused of having tried to subvert court of justice in the trial of Kamuhanda by trying to bribe prosecution witnesses to retract their statements in favor of Kamuhanda who has already been convicted for genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004.

Witness A7 confirmed that she did not pay back Nshogoza's 10,000 Rwandan Francs (about US Dollars 20) when she got paid by the Tribunal. ‘'I have never paid him back.''

The witness categorically denied that the money received from Nshogoza and a promise for bigger amount of money, motivated her and the other witness to retract their earlier evidence in Kamuhanda case.

‘'I am speaking the truth, nobody persuaded me to recant my statement apart from God who saved me,'' she stated.

During examination in Chief by Nshogoza's Canadian Defence Counsel, Allison Turner, and several times during cross examination, witness A7 said she retracted her earlier testimony to cleanse her consciousness and realized that part of her statement in Kamuhanda case was false.

She in her statement said that Kamuhanda was present during the killings on April 12, 1994 at Gikomero church in Kigali Rural prefecture which was false because she was not present at the location as she alleged.

The witness also told the Chamber that she did not only defend Kamuhanda, but six other people in her locality in Rwanda whom she claimed were acquitted.

In the course of cross examination the witness broke down in tears after the prosecuting counsel, Seye, provoked her that she became prosperous after she started meeting with the accused Nshogoza.

‘'That question hurts me, I do not thrive because of Kamuhanda and Nshogoza's donation,'' she protested.

The Chamber then went into closed session during re-examination.

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