Arusha, May 11, 2011 (FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has sanctioned the defence for former Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana for misconduct for disclosing the name of a protected prosecution witness in its motion seeking admission of a document in the defendant's case.

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"The Trial Chamber sanctions the defence in accordance with Rule 46 (A) and directs the Registry to deny fees the defence team in relation to all work performed in relation to the preparation of the present motion," it said in its decision dated May 10, 2011.

Nzabonimana's lawyers are Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, as lead counsel and Philippe Larochelle as co-counsel. According to the Chamber, as Rule 77 makes abundantly clear, violating the protective measures imposed by a Trial Chamber was an extremely serious matter that was punishable as criminal contempt of the Tribunal.

"While the Chamber does not feel that such stern sanctions are warranted in the present circumstances, it nevertheless concludes that the actions of the defence are contrary to the interests of justice and sufficiently serious to warrant formal sanction pursuant to Rule 46 (A)," it ruled.

The Chamber recalled that the defence has received numerous warnings with respect to both its in-court behaviour and written pleadings throughout the course of proceedings and was, therefore, satisfied that a further warning would be adequate given the gravity of the conduct at issue.

In its motion, the defence had sought for admission into evidence a transcript from the trial involving ex-top officials of the then Rwandan ruling party, MRND, under which a witness contradicted the prosecution's evidence that Nzabonimana had ordered the killings of mayors and other officials in Gitarama prefecture who were opposed to the slaughter of Tutsis.

The Chamber, in another decision given the same day, declared that it shall conduct a site visit to six locations in Gitarama, Central Rwanda, from September 5 to 9, 2011, which shall be inclusive of return travel between the seat of the Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania and Rwanda.

On May 6, 2011, the Trial Chamber declared the evidence phase in the proceedings to be closed and set a deadline of July 5, 2011 for the parties to submit their closing arguments.

Nzabonimana, who was arrested in Tanzania on February 18, 2008, is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. His trial opened on November 9, 2009.

The prosecution called 20 witnesses to support the charges, while the defence fielded 37 to counter the defendant's allegation.


© Hirondelle News Agency