Cross examination of Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former Bourgmestre of Taba, took place today with the Prosecution pointing out the inconsistencies in the statement made by the accused to prosecutors of the Tribunal in 1996 and his testimony in court. Final submission of the Prosecution's case has been set for 19 March 1998, and will be followed by that of the Defence a week later.
According to the statement recorded on 10 and 11 April 1996 in Lusaka, Zambia where he was arrested, the accused never attended a meeting in Gitarama on 18 April 1994. However in his testimony before Trial Chamber 1, Akayesu said he attended two meetings which were addressed by the then Prime Minister of Rwanda, in Gitarama on that day. Asked to explain the inconsistency, the accused said, "I do not recall saying that I did not attend the meeting."
According to Prosecution witnesses, it was after the accused attended the meeting in Gitarama that he transformed from being a guardian of law and order in the commune to being a perpetrator of killings of Tutsis. "I attended the meeting but never changed," he told the court.
In his testimony the accused said that during one of the meetings, he requested the Prime Minister to provide him with three gendarmes to assist him to maintain law and order in the commune. However, his request was not honoured, he added.
The Prosecution also asked why, in his testimony, the accused had told the court that one Silas Kubwimana, a former leader of Interahamwe, was all powerful and the de facto bourgmestre of Taba who went about intimidating, imprisoning and killing people in the commune, while in the statement of 1996 he characterised him as a guardian of peace. Akayesu replied that he had merely added more details to his statement.
The accused further said that he had no time to listen to radio broadcasts which are alleged to have propagated hatred against Tutsis. "I was very busy working hard, actually too busy that at one time I almost died of hunger," the accused replied.
He said although he received information that there were several people being killed in his commune, he never saw any graves nor dead bodies apart from those of two babies. He further denied that he knew of any rape cases in his commune. “The first time I heard about them was over the radio while in detention here," he told the court. The accused finally wished the Judges success and said he had confidence in them.
Akayesu, who was arrested in Lusaka, Zambia on 10 October 1996, is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity .and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions.
Defence Witnesses to Begin Testimony in the Kayishema and Ruzindana Case on 11 May 1998
Testimony by Defence witnesses in the case of The Prosecutor vs Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana will begin on 11 May 1998, Trial Chamber 2 ruled today. So far 51 Prosecution witnesses have already testified in the case which began on 9 April 1997.
Kayishema and Ruzindana are jointly charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions.
In an oral decision rendered today in The Prosecutor vs Nyiramasuhuko case, which will be followed by a written decision next week, on a Defence motion by assigned Counsel Ms. Nicole Bergevin requesting the appointment of a specifically named co-counsel, the Trial Chamber 1 held that the accused was entitled to a co-counsel at this stage of the proceedings, particularly considering that nearly all the other accused arrested in Operation “NAKI" - including the co-accused - have co-counsel. Thus the Chamber ordered the Registrar to appoint a co-counsel.
Applying the test laid down by the Chamber Ntakirutimana (ICTR-96-10-T/ICTR-96-17-T), which the Chamber said applied, mutatis mutandis, to appointment of co-counsel, the Registrar should take into account the wishes of the accused for a particular co-counsel and only refuse to accede to those wishes in the presence of "reasonable and valid grounds" for so doing. In addition to the accused's preferences, however, the Registrar had also to consider such factors as proven experience of the co-counsel, equitable geographical distribution and balance between the common and civil law traditions.
The Chamber also handed down a decision granting the Defence's Motion for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses, which will also be followed by a written decision next week.