Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced today former witness GAA to nine months imprisonment for contempt of the Tribunal and false testimony under solemn declaration. During the session, the former witness GAA pleaded guilty to Count II (contempt of the Tribunal) of the Amended Indictment dated 28 November 2007. He had previously pleaded guilty to Count I (giving false testimony under solemn declaration) during his initial appearence.
In presenting his closing argument, the Defense Counsel of the former witness GAA, Mr. Maruma requested the Chamber to take into consideration mitigating circumstances such as the willingness of the accused to enter a guilty plea, his family situation, his considerable cooperation with the Prosecutor and the fact that he was induced to commit the crime.
Previously a plea agreement was entered into by the accused and the Prosecutor. The Trial Chamber composed of Judge Dennis Byron presiding; Gberdao Gustave Kam and Vagn Joensen said that it accepted the plea agreement and was satisfied that the guilty plea was made voluntarily without pressure, threats, or promises, and that the former witness GAA was sufficiently informed regarding the effects of his plea.
GAA was arrested in Kigali, Rwanda on 30 July 2007 and transferred to the Tribunal on 1 August 2007. At his initial appearance, the former witness code named GAA, admitted that he willingly gave the false testimony when he appeared before the Appeals Chamber on 18 May 2005 in the case of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda who appealed against his conviction and sentence. GAA repeatedly acknowledged that his testimony was false and asked for forgiveness.
This is the Tribunal’s first prosecution for contempt of court and for giving false testimony during its proceedings. The case arises out of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor on the direction of the Appeals Chamber. On 23 March 2007, the ICTR Prosecutor issued a 6 count indictment against GAA.
The former witness was represented by Mr. C. J. Maruma, a duty counsel and Mr. Richard Karegyesa, Senior Trial Attorney, was leading the Prosecution team, Abdoulaye Seye, Florida Kabasinga and Dennis Mabura.