The 5th Plenary Session of the Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, comprising the six judges of the two Trial Chambers in Arusha, Tanzania and the five judges of the Appeals Chamber in The Hague, The Netherlands will be held in Arusha from Monday 1 June to Tuesday 9 June 1998. Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (USA), President of the Appeals Chamber of the Rwanda Tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will be one of the Judges attending the session.
The Plenary Session is the highest judicial policy making forum of the ICTR, at which proposals for amendment to the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Rules Covering the Detention of Persons Awaiting Trial or Appeal Before the Tribunal, and the Directive on Assignment of Defence Counsel are considered and adopted. These and other proposals relating to the Tribunal's legal and judicial processes may be made by any of the Judges, the Prosecutor and the Registrar.
In addition to the proposed amendments to the Tribunal's regulatory documents, other matters expected to be discussed at the Fifth Plenary Session include the adoption of a Code of Conduct for Defence Counsel, adoption of the Third Annual Report of the ICTR to the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations, cooperation between the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and adoption of the Directive of the Registry on Court Management.
Trials adjourned to enable Judges attend the Plenary Session
Trials in the case of The Prosecutor vs. Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana, and in the case of The Prosecutor vs. George Rutaganda which have been going on before Trial Chamber 2 and Trial Chamber 1 respectively, have been adjourned to enable Trial Judges to attend the Plenary Session which begins on Monday 1 June 1998.
Before adjourning hearing in the case of The Prosecutor vs. George Rutaganda, the Trial Chamber 1 urged greater cooperation between the Defence Counsel Ms Tiphaine Dickson and the Tribunal's Witness and Victims Protection Unit. This followed the filing of a Defence motion seeking blanket security guarantees for a number of unidentified witnesses. Ms Dickson argued that the witnesses were afraid to commit themselves to testify until their security was guaranteed. The Witness and Victims Protection Unit in its response stated that Defence Counsel was looking for a scapegoat for her inability to conduct the defence of her client effectively. The Unit further noted that it could only provide support and protection for specific, identified witnesses.
Such protection has always been ordered by the Chamber on a case by case basis once the identities and whereabouts of the witnesses have been given to the Witness and Victims Protection Unit. All three judges of the Chamber, Judge Laïty Kama, presiding, and Judges Lennart Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay queried Ms Dickson's failure to provide specific information about her witnesses, pointing out that the ICTR had successfully protected witnesses who had testified in other trials.
Judge Aspegren warned her, "You risk putting yourself in a position where we won't be able to hear these witnesses." While noting that the Rutaganda case had seen only 43 trial days since it opened in March last year, Judge Pillay told Ms Dickson "you have had almost 360 days to work on defence preparations and witnesses." The Chamber's ruling on the motion will be made later.
The Trial Chamber, however, granted a request by the Defence for a two-month adjournment of the case in order to allow the Defence to produce its witnesses. The Prosecution completed the presentation of its case today, including graphic video footage earlier this week of, Interahamwe death squads clubbing and hacking their victims to death during the 1994 genocide. Trial in the Rutaganda case will resume on 4 August with the presentation of Defence testimonies and arguments.
Rutaganda, the former Vice President of the Interahamwe militia is charged with Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and Violation of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Convention. The trial has been adjourned to 4 August 1998.
In the case of The Prosecutor vs. Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana, Andre Ferran, the Defence Counsel for Clement Kayishema called in an expert witness, Prof. Michel Guibal, from the University of Montpellier in France, who gave an expert analysis of the position of prefectures in peculiar instances such as that obtaining in Rwanda in 1994. Prof. Guibal was the ninth defence witness to testify in the case. The trial has been adjourned to 15 June 1998.
Kayishema, a former Prefect of Kibuye and Ruzindana, a former businessman, are jointly charged with Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and Violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional to Protocol II thereto.