14.10.10 - ICTR/NIZEYIMANA - PROSECUTION REQUEST FOR ADMISSION OF RWANDAN MINISTER'S STATEMENT FAILS

Arusha, October 14, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has refused to admit into evidence a sworn statement by former Rwandan Defence Minister, General Marcel Gatsinzi, sought to be produced by prosecution to boost its case against then military officer, Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana.
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Trial Chamber III said in its decision posted on the ICTR website and made available to Hirondelle News Agency Thursday that admission as evidence of the statement by General Gatsinzi, currently Minister for Natural Disaster and Refugee Affairs, without allowing oral interrogation to be conducted was highly prejudicial to the accused.

According to the Chamber, the prosecution had submitted that the affidavit was supported by testimonies that would be presented orally which would discuss the topics specified in the affidavit. However, it ruled, none of the other witnesses enumerated in the prosecution's list of witnesses are equivalent in rank or authority to General Gatsinzi.

"Given General Gatsinzi's rank, knowledge and nexus to the accused, there is also an overriding public interest in the evidence being presented. Further, the Chamber finds that the prosecutor has not submitted a satisfactory reason for the witness's inability to testify in person. Therefore, the Chamber denies admission of the statement," it ruled.

Last month, genocide-convict and former Director of Cabinet in the Defence Ministry, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, asked the Appeals Chamber of the Tribunal to order and compel General Gatsinzi to testify in his appeal challenging life imprisonment sentence he is facing for genocide.

Bagosora, who was considered the mastermind of the 1994 genocide, sought the testimony of Gen. Gatsinzi, claiming that his conviction was based on speculative grounds that being the highest authority in Defence Ministry he exercised effective control over the army and gendarmerie between April 6 and 9, 1994.

He pointed out that as acting Chief of Staff of the armed forces, who was appointed on April 6 to 7, 1994 and arrival at the Rwandan Army Headquarters in the afternoon of April 7, Gatsinzi was well placed to testify on the functioning of the army and on the chain of command from April 6 to 9, 1994.

Capt. Nizeyimana, who was second in command in charge of intelligence and military operations of Noncommissioned Officers School (ESO) in the southern town of Butare is charged with six charges including genocide and extermination, murder and rape as a crimes against humanity, among others.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in his third initial appearance before the Tribunal on October 7. Nizeyimana was arrested in Kampala (Uganda) on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha (Tanzania) the following day.

FK/ER/GF

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