Arusha, November 12, 2009 (FH) - A defence witness claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday that inmates in Rwanda make false statements against accused persons tried in Arusha in order to get released, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Led in his examination in-chief by American defence counsel Peter Robinson, witness code-named ‘'16'' to protect his identity, alleged that a group of about 40 detainees at Ruhengeri prison, including himself, were advised by the Rwandan officials to falsely accuse the former leaders as part of the condition to get released.

He added that without implicating the former authorities, their confessions would not be accepted.

The witness was testifying in the defence of the former Secretary General of the Rwandan presidential party (MRND), Joseph Nzirorera.

Nzirorera is jointly tried alongside two other senior MRND leaders, including its ex-president, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and the vice-president, Edouard Karemera whose defence case has already been completed.

He asked the Chamber, presided by Judge Denis Byron, ‘'not to give any credit to these statements I made before the Ruhengeri prison authorities and to the ICTR investigators in 2002 because I made them under duress''.

He mentioned names of about ten witnesses to have been forced under such circumstances.

The witness, who was convicted in Rwanda for his involvement in genocide and sentenced to 20 years in prison, would continue with his testimony on Monday. He is the tenth defence witness out of the expected 55.

Nzirorera and his two co-defendants are charged mainly with crimes committed by members of their party. The Prosecution has indicted them for their superior responsibility as top officials of the MRND, the party then in power under President Juvenal Habyarimana.


© Hirondelle News Agency