Arusha, June 15, 2010 (FH) -The Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr. Adama Dieng, has rejected the request by American lawyer Peter Robinson to withdraw  from defending genocide-suspect and former Secretary General of then Rwandan ruling party, MRND, Joseph Nzirorera.

1 min 31Approximate reading time

Robinson sought for the withdrawal basing on what he called potential risk of being prosecuted in Rwanda for work he was performing on behalf of his client, linking his assertions with arraignment of his colleague Peter Erlinder in Kigali recently for genocide denial.

"I do not see any merit in your request. I am not persuaded that Erlinder's arrest has anything to do with his work at ICTR, as his travel to Kigali was not connected in any way to his mandate with ICTR. Even so I would fail to see the direct link to your ability to carry out your mandate as a counsel," the registrar told Robinson in his decision dated June 9, 2010.

He said that on May 31, they sent an official note to Rwanda to get clarification whether Erlinder's arrest had any relationship with the instance he has taken when defending his client, Major Aloys Ntabakuze before the Tribunal.

On June 2, he said, "Rwandan Prosecutor General replied, pointing out that Mr Erlinder's arrest was in no way connected with his assignments at ICTR and emphasized that they would comply with provisions of the memorandum of understanding governing cooperation between the Republic of Rwanda and ICTR".

The registrar pointed out that several defence teams were in Rwanda on missions authorized by ICTR even after the arrest of Erlinder on May 28 and such investigations were going on without any hindrance from Rwandan authorities.

"Your own investigator is currently performing investigations in Kigali, Butare and Gisenyi without any reported problems. Many missions to Rwanda have been made by your team members including your self without any complaint, over the last so many years. Your last mission in Rwanda was in November 2009," he further told Mr Robinson.

Mr Dieng reminded the lawyer that he has spent more than 15,000 hours on the case since his assignment in 2002, which represent a cost of USD 1,700,943 in fees under the Legal Aid Programme.

Robinson has been charged with contempt of court for refusing to conduct examination of Nzirorera's defence witness and has been ordered to appear in court on June 21, when hearing of the case resumes.


© Hirondelle News Agency