Arusha, 2 July 2009 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today convicted a Rwandan lawyer, Leonidas Nshogoza, of the contempt of court and sentenced him to ten months jail, which however, was deducted from the already 15 months the accused had spent in the detention in Arusha waiting for the judgement.

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"I am very happy that I am finally a free man[despite the conviction]," he told Hirondelle Agency, moments after the 47-year-old Nshogoza left the court-room, located at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).

The lead prosecution attorney, Richard Karegyesa, said that he would study the judgement before deciding on the next course of action. "We'll have to study the  judgement first," he said.

The presiding judge, Khalida Rachid Khan of Pakistan, said the three-bench judges found Nshogoza unanimously guilty of one count of contempt by repeatedly meeting with and disclosing the protected information of witnesses dubbed "GAA" and "A7/GEX" for their security, in knowing violation of, or with reckless indifference to the protective measures.

"Nshogoza's repeated meetings with the protected witnesses, which demonstrated a continued disregard for the protective measures," stated Judge Khan, adding that this happened despite the fact the accused was a lawyer and in position as an investigator at the ICTR.

"He also admitted submission of a false claim for fees to the Tribunal," observed the Judge.

The Chamber, however, dismissed three other counts of committing the offence of attempt of contempt and charge of attempting to procure false statements of witnesses.

Judge Khan said that the mitigating factors included the family circumstances of the accused, who has three children aged 14, 15 and 17 ,and that he co-operated with the Tribunal through his voluntary surrender on 8 February 2008 in Arusha.

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

A person convicted of contempt of court faces a maximum sentence of five years or a fine of US $ 10,000 or both before the UN Court.

A protected prosecution witness dubbed ‘'GAA'' -first such conviction-- was sentenced to nine months imprisonment in December 207 after being found guilty of contempt of court .

This is the third judgement delivered by the ICTR this year. One more judgement is expected on June 14 of Tharcisse Renzaho, former Governor of Rural Kigali.


© Hirondelle News Agency