Arusha, August 17, 2011 (FH) - A defence witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday accused prosecution investigators of intimidating and luring him to receive 300,000 Rwandan francs in order to testify against  former Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware.

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"In the first occasion they showed me 200,000 Rwandan francs. It was in June 2010. In the second occasion they showed me 100,000 Rwandan francs. I turned them down firmly," the witness code-named DWAN-9 alleged in his examination in chief, led by the defendant's lead counsel Peter Herbert.

According to him, since then they have become "sworn enemies. We do not speak to one another."  He added that they even threatened him: "they said that if I testified for the defence I would not come back to Rwanda. I would be detained in Arusha."

The witness went further alleging that at some point in time he met with one of the investigators who was armed with a screw driver and wanted to assault him for refusing to testify for the prosecution in the case, but he escaped. "He wanted me to talk about things I did not know," he said.

Prior to such event, he said, the ICTR prosecution in Kigali had summoned him for interrogations on whether Ngirabatware had brought firearms to Gisenyi. "I told them that I did not see him bringing firearms for us to use. They (investigators) told me that they did not want such answer," he said.

Asked whether he made any complaint to the ICTR authority on the matter, the witness responded that he reported the matter to an authority of the Tribunal in Kigali, who in turn advised him to forward the issue to the ICTR prosecutor if such intimidation were to continue.

The trial went into closed session when the prosecution started cross-examining the witness. Ngirabatware is charged with genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.

Ngirabatware, who hails from what used to be the Nyamyumba Commune, is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide, who is still on the run. He fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and France.

He was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and transferred to ICTR custody on October 8, 2008. His trial took off September 22, 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency