Arusha, June 21, 2010 (FH) - American lawyer Peter Robinson has requested the registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to reconsider his decision, refusing to allow him to withdraw from defending genocide-suspect and former Secretary General of then Rwandan ruling party, MRND, Joseph Nzirorera.

1 min 26Approximate reading time

Robinson, lead counsel for Nzirorera, contended that new facts were not available to the Registrar, Mr Adam Dieng, when he gave his decision on June 9, 2010, on reasons behind his move to withdraw from the case.

The lawyer had previously 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.

''It is well established that a Chamber may reconsider a previous decision if a new fact is discovered that was not known to the Chamber at the time, if there is a material change in circumstances, or where there is reason to believe that a previous decision was erroneous and therefore prejudicial to either party,'' elaborated part of the motion.

Robinson wanted the same standards be applied to the decision of the Registrar. In his decision, the registrar said he was 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 Tribunal.

"However, the transcript of Peter Erlinder's bail hearing reveals a clear connection between his work as defence counsel at the ICTR and the charges against him," Robinson claimed, citing several paragraphs from the transcript to back up his assertions.

He gave an example from the transcript of Erlinder's bail hearing that during Military One trial at ICTR, Erlinder denied and downplayed genocide and also wrote that the killings of Tutsis that took place in Rwanda in 1994 was not genocide.

Therefore, he said, it appeared the registrar's conclusion that the charges against Erlinder had nothing to do with his work at ICTR was incorrect.

Erlinder, who has been granted bail on medical grounds, is a lead counsel for genocide-convict Major Aloys Ntabakuze, who is waiting hearing of appeal against life imprisonment sentence imposed on him.


© Hirondelle News Agency