Three important decisions which will undoubtedly become jurisprudence have just been rendered by Trial Chamber 1 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), presided by Judge Laïty Kama, President of the Tribunal, and with Judges Lennart Aspegren and Yacov A. Ostrovsky in attendance on Wednesday, 6 November 1996. The decisions include the joinder of the accused to enable the joint trials of Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana on 20 February 1997.
On Tuesday 5 November 1996, the Prosecutor requested the adoption of measures to protect prosecution witnesses in the trial of Clément Kayishema and the joinder of the accused whose objective is to ensure that Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana are tried on the same date (the initial appearance for the latter was held on 29 October 1966 and his trial was set for 20 February 1997). In fact, Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana are charged with the same offences, namely: genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, offences committed during the same criminal transactions, namely massacres perpetrated in the Bisesero area (Kibuye Prefecture.).
The defence requested in its preliminary motions the annulment of the indictment because of the non-disclosure of certain case documents, a matter which consequently must lead to the provisional release of its client, and the continuance of the trial to allow adequate time for the preparation of its defence.
On the previous day, Tuesday 5 November 1996, after the presentation of arguments by both parties, President Kama had stated that given the number of legal issues raised, the Trial Chamber would not render its decisions until the following day.
On Wednesday, 06 November, Trial Chamber I, in its decision on witness protection, insisted on telling the Prosecutor that it was wrong for him to have given the defence statements in which the identification information on victims and witnesses were redacted, even though, contrary to the defence argument, he could have legally done it had he obtained prior authority from the Tribunal. Trial Chamber 1 decided that the Prosecutor will in any event divulge to the defence the names of witnesses and unredacted witness statements so as to allow him adequate time to prepare for the trial, without prejudice to Rules 69 and 75 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.The remaining measures were almost identical to those adopted in the matters of the Prosecutor against Georges Anderson Rutaganda and Jean-Paul Akayesu (cf. Press Releases Nos 18 and 19 of 03 October 1996).
- Regarding the request for joinder of the accused, it was decided that the trial of Clément Kayishema shall take place at the same time as that of his co-accused, Obed Ruzindana, on 20 February 1997. As indicated by the President, the Tribunal had already envisaged the joinder of the accused at the time of the initial appearance of the latter;
- The requests made by the defence, both for the annulment of the indictment and for the provisional release of Clément Kayishema, were rejected. However, the Trial Chamber asked the Prosecution to adhere to its obligation to disclose to the defence within two weeks, the documents provided for by Rule 66 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, without prejudice to the decision of theTribunal following the motion filed by the Prosecutor seeking an order for protection measures for victims and witnesses.