Arusha, March 25, 2011 (FH) - While the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is preparing for hearing the appeal involving three former senior Rwandan military officers, the International Criminal Court (ICC) started receiving defence evidence in Germain Katanga trial this week.

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American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, lead defence counsel for genocide-convict, Major Aloys Ntabakuze is reportedly worried to travel to Arusha, Tanzania, the headquarters of ICTR, to attend the appeal hearing of his client, allegedly for threats on his life. The appeal is scheduled for hearing starting March 30 through April 1, 2011.

Erlinder, who was in Rwanda to prepare the defence for opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, herself charged with "negationism", was arrested on May 28, 2010 for genocide denial and later released "on medical grounds". Rwandan authorities vowed to summon him any time, stating that they may use Interpol to track him down if he fails to respond.

Supporting his counsel, Ntabakuze had sought for his lawyer to participate in the appeal hearing by video-conference but the Chamber denied the request. Other convicts who also appealed alongside Ntabakuze to challenge the life imprisonment sentence are Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva.

It was also reported on the Tribunal's resolution on "special deposition" proceedings for preservation of prosecution's evidence against three most wanted fugitives, including alleged main financier of the 1994 genocide, Félicien Kabuga, that such procedure does not amount to trial in absentia.

According to the Tribunal, an important distinction between such procedure and a trial was that the single Judge presiding over the proceedings would not have the powers to enter a verdict of guilt or innocence, and could not make decisions regarding the admissibility or the weight of the deposition evidence.

It further said it would be for a future Trial Chamber to decide the admissibility of evidence recorded and preserved and assess its relevance and probative value.

Before the same Tribunal, ex-Rwandan Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana continued presenting his defence case and called three witnesses, including chief investigator, Fernand Batard. He alleged that he could not easily get ordinary Rwandans neither in the country nor abroad to testify for the defendant for fear of reprisal by the authorities.

At the ICC in The Hague, Germain Katanga opened his defence case and called his young brother, Jonathan Bubachu Baguma as his first witness.  Katanga, a rebel leader of a group known as Patriotic Resistance Force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is charged with three crimes against humanity and seven war crimes.

In addition, the United Kingdom announced this week its contribution of £500,000 to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) set to support victims and their families affected by violence and war. Over the past three years, the TFV has worked with local and international partners in northern Uganda and DRC.


© Hirondelle News Agency