Arusha, May 24, 2011(FH) - French lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, has withdrawn his request to appear in the ongoing special deposition proceedings in the case of  the most wanted genocide fugitive, Félicien Kabuga, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

1 min 43Approximate reading time

In his decision dated May 18, 2011 on the lawyer's request for appointment to represent Kabuga's family in the proceedings, presiding Judge Vagn Joensen said, "on May 17, 2011, he (Emmanuel Altit) sent an e-mail stating that he was withdrawing his request to appear in these proceedings."

This follows the lawyer's failure to present in time his submissions, explaining whether he had any locus standi on the matter. According to the judge, he had invited the parties, Registrar of the Tribunal and Altit himself to file their submissions on the contentious issue not later than May 13, 2011.

"The parties and the Registrar filed timely submissions under strictly confidential cover. Altit requested and received an extension of filing deadline, but failed to make any submissions by May 16, 2011," he said, adding that the lawyer chose the following day to inform the Tribunal on his withdrawal decision.

Therefore, the judge found no other option than to declare the lawyer's request moot and dismissed it in its entirety. The proceedings commenced before the Tribunal on May 23, 2011 and Tanzanian lawyer, Bahame Nyanduga, has been appointed as Duty Counsel to defend Kabuga's interests in the matter.

In another decision, Judge Joensen granted the prosecution's request to have a batch of twelve Rwandan detainees transferred to the UNDF in Arusha to testify during the proceedings. "I find that the prosecution has fulfilled the requirements under Rule 90 bis for the transfer of the twelve detained witnesses," he said.

According to him, he was satisfied that the witnesses were not required for any criminal proceedings in progress in Rwanda during the period of their depositions. The presence of the detainees at the Tribunal, he said, would not extend the period of their detention in Rwanda.

Apart from Kabuga, who is alleged the main financier of the 1994 Tutsi genocide other fugitives whom the prosecution has requested for special deposition proceedings to safeguard evidence are Augustin Bizimana, former Minister of Defence and Major Protais Mpiranya, who was Commander of the Presidential Guard.

The Tribunal has also granted the prosecution's request for Bizimana, but no date has been fixed for commencement of the proceedings, while deliberation on the application relating to the case of Mpiranya was still pending.

According to sources at ICTR, Kabuga is said to be carrying out his commercial activities in Kenya, while Mpiranya is allegedly being protected by senior officials in Zimbabwe, whereas Bizimana may be hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


© Hirondelle News Agency