Arusha, 3 July 2009 (FH)- A Rwandan lawyer, Leonidas Nshogoza, was on Thursday convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for the contempt of court and sentenced him to ten months jail, reports Hirondelle Agency.

1 min 52Approximate reading time

However, the convicted lawyer was released as he had already spent 15 months in detention in Arusha waiting for the judgement.

"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 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.

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.

Meanwhile, nine genocide-convicted were secretly transferred on Saturday to Benin to serve their sentences under the terms of an agreement signed with the United Nations.

Among prisoners sent to the West African country, included the former Minister for Finance, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi; Priest Athanase Seromba; and one of the founders of the infamous Radio Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza.

Others are: Georges Rutaganda (ex-businessman and vice chairman of Interahamwe), Gerard Ntakurutimana (medical doctor), Juvenal Kajelijeli (ex-Mukingo Mayor), Aloys Simba (ex-Colonel of Army), Juvenal Rugambarara (ex-Bicumbi Mayor) and Francois Karera (ex-Governor Kigali-Rural).

Mali, already hosts 15 prisoners, including former Interim Prime Minister during the genocide, Jean Kambanda, who pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to life jail.

Apart from Mali and Benin, five other countries--- Swaziland, France, Sweden, Italy and Rwanda-- have signed an agreement with the UN on the enforcement of sentences.

One convict- Belgian-Italian former journalist with RTLM Georges Ruggiu and the only non-Rwandan implicated in the genocide, served for about a year's sentence in Italy.

In another development, an officer of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), Major Faustin Ntilikina, started on Tuesday his testimony for the defence of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, prosecuted for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Major Ntilikina, a French citizen since 2007, stated that the Ngoma camp (southern Rwanda), which was commanded by the defendant at the beginning of 1994, had almost no men.


© Hirondelle News Agency