Arusha, March 23, 2011 (FH) - American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, lead defence counsel for genocide-convict, Major Aloys Ntabakuze is reportedly worried to travel to Tanzania to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for the appeal hearing of his client, allegedly for threats on his life.

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The appeal hearing of the convict who was sentenced to life imprisonment alongside two other former military officers on December 18, 2008 is scheduled to be conducted in Arusha, Tanzania at the Tribunal's seat between March 30 through April 1, 2011.

Backing the alleged safety threats for his lead counsel, Major Ntabakuze filed a motion before the Appeals Chamber seeking for his counsel to participate in the appeal hearing by video-conference but the Chamber denied the motion.

‘'The Appeals Chamber finds that Ntabakuze has failed to demonstrate that the grant of a video-conference is warranted in this case and that the request for Lead Counsel's appearance by way of video-conference should therefore be denied,'' reads part of the ruling.

‘'It recalls that failure by Counsel to appear before the Tribunal may be a ground for the imposition of sanctions or may constitute contempt of the Tribunal,'' warns the decision.

Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda on May 28, 2010 on grounds of genocide denial but was later released "on medical grounds". He was in Rwanda to prepare the defence of opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, herself charged with "negationism" by Kigali.

After his release, Rwandan prosecution said Erlinder would be summoned any time to face charges and if he would jump bail and not respond to the summons, it would use the Interpol to track him down for his arrest.

Other appellants alongside Major Ntabakuze are Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, former Director of Cabinet in the ministry of Defence and Lt.Col Anatole Nsengiyumva.


© Hirondelle News Agency