Arusha, December 7, 2009 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is sometimes requested to take depositions from witnesses who are unable, for medical reasons, to travel to Arusha.

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Next week, Judge Mparany Rajohnson will go to Rwanda to hear the testimony of a Defence witness in Nzabonimana's trial. Code-named RW-42, the witness is an old and sick person.

This process called "Deposition" is described in the Rule 71 of the ICTR's Rules of procedure and evidence which stipulates: « At the request of either party, a Trial Chamber may, in exceptional circumstances and in the interests of justice, order that a deposition be taken for use at trial, and appoint, for that purpose, a Presiding Officer".

The motion for the taking of a deposition must indicate the name and whereabouts of the witness, the date and place at which the deposition is to be taken, a statement of the matters on which the person is to be examined, and the exceptional circumstances justifying the taking of the deposition.

"If the motion is granted, the party at whose request the deposition is to be taken shall give reasonable notice to the other party, who shall have the right to attend the taking of the deposition and cross-examine the witness", reads Rule 71.

The Presiding officer is then requested to ensure that the deposition is taken in accordance with the Rules and that a record is made of the deposition, including cross-examination and objections raised by either party. The record is transmitted to the Trial Chamber.

During a Plenary session on October 1, the judges adopted Rule 71 bis, which allows the Tribunal to collect and preserve evidence and testimonies of genocide accused who are still on the run.

According to this new rule, Prosecution witnesses are allowed to testify before a judge at any time. Their recorded testimonies can then be used in a subsequent trial.

Chief Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said in his statement before the UN Council on December 3 that he proposed to request such proceedings by the second quarter of 2010 in the cases of the three top level fugitives, i.e. Felicien Kabuga, accused of having bankrolled the genocide, Augustin Bizimana the former Minister of Defence and Protais Mpiranya former Commander of the Presidential Guard of Rwanda.   

He concluded: "In this way, we hope that the interest of justice would not be defeated by the loss of evidence in the wake of prolonged evasion of justice by the fugitives".


 © Hirondelle News Agency