Arusha, March 16, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Appeals Court has upheld a contempt of court conviction and ten-month jail term against Rwandan lawyer Leonidas Nshogoza for repeatedly meeting with protected prosecution witnesses, an ICTR press release said Tuesday.

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In a March 15 ruling, the Appeals Court threw out by a majority of three to two Nshogoza's arguments that the Trial Court had erred in its judgment.     

The Trial Court convicted and sentenced Nshogoza on July 2 last year but ordered his immediate release as he had already spent 10 months in detention. He was found guilty of "repeatedly meeting with and disclosing the protected information of Witnesses in knowing violation of, or with reckless indifference to" protective measures ordered by the court.   

Nshogoza was then working as an investigator in the defence team of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, former Minister for Higher Education, who has been convicted of genocide.

The meetings with protected witnesses "GAA" and "A7/GEX" took place between March 2004 and May 2005. Witness "GAA" later pleaded guilty to giving false testimony before the Appeals Chamber and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. However, it was not proven that Nshogoza influenced the witnesses to give false testimony.

ICTR rules require that a party who wishes to meet protected witnesses should first request permission from the Chamber that ordered their protection.

The maximum penalty that the Tribunal can impose for contempt of court is five years in prison or a fine of $10,000, or both.


© Hirondelle News Agency