08.02.11 - ICTR/NGIRABATWARE - NGIRABATWARE CHALLENGES DISMISSAL OF REQUEST FOR DISQUALIFICATION

Arusha, February 8, 2011 (FH) - Former Rwandan Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware, has challenged the decision rendered by the Bureau of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which dismissed his motion for disqualification of judges trying the case against him.
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He is requesting the ICTR Appeals Chamber to reverse the Bureau's impugned decision given on January 25, 2011 and determine the disqualification motion afresh. Alternatively, he seeks for remand of the matter for the appointment of a new panel of judges to determine the disqualification motion.

"In the interest of justice, the defence prays the Appeals Chamber to consider the present motion seeking to appeal the impugned decision of the Bureau dated January 25, 2011 and to further render a de novo (afresh) determination on the merits of the disqualification motion dated January 5, 2011," he stated.

Ngirabatware had sought for disqualification of the judges in his case because they were biased. The Bureau had, however, found the defence to have failed to establish any actual or apparent bias of the Trial Chamber composed of Judges William Sekule (presiding), Solomy Bossa and Mparany Rajohnson.

The appellant has advanced three supporting grounds of appeal to fault the Bureau's decision. They include error and misapprehension of the law, disregard of the defence submissions and mischaracterization of the evidence brought by the defence.

"The impugned decision constitutes an abuse of discretion of the Bureau because (it ) made errors of law, disregarded a substantial part of defence submissions set forth in the disqualification motion and mischaracterized the evidence and the defence submissions," the appeal reads in part.

The Bureau had also ruled that the appropriate procedure was for defence to refer the disqualification motion first before the Bench seized of its case or directly before the presiding judge Sekule.

However, Ngirabatware contended that there was no where under the Rules is it ever mentioned that the applicant has first to refer such application to the Bench seized of the proceedings.

"Indeed, even Presiding Judge Sekule decided to recuse himself from the Bureau (....) since there would have been a conflict of interest  for him to consider a motion where he is implicated," he stated.

The former minister, who is currently testifying on his own defence, is accused of genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity. He started defending himself on November 16, 2010.

FK/GF

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