Arusha, April 11, 2011 (FH) -Defence lawyers for former Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana have requested the United Nations to set up an independent body to investigate on alleged disbursement of funds to the Rwandan authorities for "treatment" of prosecution witnesses in their client's case.

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"Investigation by a different United Nations branch, independent from the Tribunal, is necessary. It is now necessary to get a full picture of the unfortunate accounting practices that took place in the course of Nzabonimana investigation in 1998," Counsels Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse and Philippe Larochelle said.

In their detailed report to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Headquarters in New York, USA and Investigations Division Regional Offices in Nairobi, the two lawyers have attached documents showing payments of 245, 000 Rwandan Francs to Adamou Allagouma, a prosecutor investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), for "treatment" of witnesses who testified in the defendant's trial.

Referring to a report of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report of February 1998, the lawyers said the average salary of a Rwandan in 1998 was 336 Rwandese Francs per day. Therefore, they said, the 245,000 Rwandan Francs were equivalent of the monthly salary of 23 persons.

It is alleged that witnesses were indemnified during investigations of Nzabonimana's case in Gitarama prefecture (Central Rwanda), where the defendant is accused of having played an important role in the massacres of Tutsis in 1994 Rwandan genocide.

One of the witness who allegedly received the payment is Jean-Marie Vianney Mporanzi, a former Mayor of Rutobwe Commune in Gitarama prefecture. After being dropped by prosecution he testified as defence witness in May 2010 that he received 2,000 Rwandan Francs from sub-prefect of Gitarama after being interrogated by ICTR investigators.

The lawyer stated in the report that Nzabonimana was accused following such investigations and the documents in question reveal not only a blatant disregard for the usual procedure to be followed in indemnifying witnesses, but also a worrying proximity with the Rwandan authorities instead of the independent which should have characterized the prosecution of the defendant.

"Nzabonimana is entitled to obtain a detailed ventilation of the use of those 245,000 Rwandan Francs. It must also be determined what directives the investigators had received that led them to have recourse to such irregular methods of investigation and where these directives emanated from," charged.

While the defence for Nzabonimana is seeking for such investigation, the Tribunal has denied the motion by the lawyers to have Allagouma and his co-investigator Almahamoud Sidibe and Sub-prefect of Gitarama, Immaculée Mukamasabo summoned to testify on the documents.

The documents, according to the defence, suggest that the prosecution had colluded with the Rwandan authorities to lure witnesses to testify against Nzabonimana. The Tribunal ruled, among others, that "the defence has not established a prima-facie case supporting its contention that the prosecution bribed its witnesses  ..."

Nzabonimana is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. On April 7, 2011, the Tribunal declared that his defence case was officially closed, at the exception of the hearing of two French witnesses whose identity was not disclosed.

The trial resumes on May 3, when the prosecution is expected to call its witness to rebut the defence of alibi of Nzabonimana that he was at the French Embassy in Kigali between April 7 and 11, 1994.


© Hirondelle News Agency