Arusha, June 30, 2010 (FH) - Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga has assured the defence counsels working with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that no lawyer would be prosecuted in Rwanda for performing official duties as defence counsel before the Tribunal.

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He was addressing the question surrounding the arraignment in Kigali of American Professor Peter Erlinder recently on genocide denial charges, the event which attracted criticism from defence counsels at ICTR, alleging fears of being prosecuted like their colleague.

"We understand that there is no fair trial where there is no representation," he said, comforting defence counsels at ICTR that their immunity in that respect was guaranteed.

In a press conference Wednesday, Ngoga further said, "the relationship between Rwanda and ICTR is still intact. We are mindful of our obligations in that we have to facilitate activities of ICTR. We stick to provisions of Memorandum of Understanding we had signed."

"Rest assured that the case of Erlinder is an isolated event. It is a case of Erlinder alone. Erlinder has been provoking the history of our country by making several statements saying there was no genocide in Rwanda. This is a criminal offence and is against our law. As a country, Rwanda has the obligation to punish those who breach our laws," he stressed.

ICTR sent to Rwanda a note, asking immediate release of Erlinder after observing that there was a link between the nature of accusations and his mandate with Tribunal. However the American Professor was released on bail on medical and humanitarian grounds.

Erlinder is lead counsel for genocide-convict Major Aloys Ntabakuze, who is currently waiting for the hearing of his appeal against life imprisonment.

The ICTR Spokesperson Roland Amoussouga took the opportunity to dispel any misunderstanding on the matter, particularly from the defence counsels, saying Rwanda and Tribunal would continue to respect their mutual relationship signed by the parties.


© Hirondelle News Agency