Arusha, April 19, 2010 (FH) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday accused a French lawyer, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, of using abusive language with racial connotations against the bench.

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‘'Defence counsel made several utterances which may amount to abusive language with racial connotations,'' alleged Ugandan presiding Judge, Solomy Balungi Bossa, at the beginning of the afternoon session in the on-going trial of the genocide-accused former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana .

The French lawyer is the lead defence counsel for the accused.

Judge Bossa, flanked by Judges Mparany Rajohson from Madagascar and Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov from Russia, alleged that the counsel went as far as referring the Chamber  as ‘'Mongolian Chamber'' and the whole Tribunal ‘'A Banana Republic''.

‘'This is an insult not only to the Chamber but also to the whole Tribunal,'' Judge Bossa charged, demanding an explanation from the lawyer.

Responding, the French lawyer quickly said he had no knowledge of ‘'what the Chamber was talking about''. Judge Bossa took the trouble to explain further that the words were spoken among the members of the defence team shortly before lunch-break.

The defence counsel was quick to intervene by saying: ‘' Anything stated outside the hearing process is beyond the jurisdiction of the Trial Chamber.''

‘'The Chamber seizes the matter and will act according to the rules of this Tribunal,'' Presiding Judge said and closed the discussion.

Nzabonimana is facing five charges-- genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. He has denied the charges.

His defence case started on April 14. The prosecution presented 19 witnesses and concluded its case on April 13.

The trial continues Tuesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency