9 June 2010

Rwanda: ICTR Attorney Charged With Contempt of Court

Kigali — The Trial Chamber III at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has filed a suit against defense attorney, Peter Robinson, for contempt of court by persistently refusing to examine a witness.

Robinson deliberately refused to examine a witness claiming that he was protesting the arrest of embattled controversial American attorney, Peter Erlinder, who was recently arrested in Rwanda over crimes of Genocide denial and trivialization the crime.

"The court accused him of obstruction of justice and disobeying a court order, hence initiating a contempt proceeding against him," said the tribunal spokesman, Roland Amoussouga.

He added that the court found Robinson's argument invalid and ordered him to proceed with the examination of the witness, but he continuously refused.

Reports say that the Robinson, a defence attorney to Genocide suspect, Joseph Nzirorera, was told by the court that Erlinder's charges in Rwanda were not in any way connected to his work at the tribunal.

"Refusing to examine the witness created a direct and negative impact on witness's ability to present an effective defence," Amoussouga said.

"Therefore under rule 77(c), the chamber will initiate a contempt proceeding against him and he will appear before the trial chamber on Monday next week".

The tribunal spokesman also pointed out that the judge ordered Robinson to procure legal representation and submit an affidavit and answer why he should not be held in contempt.

If proven guilty, according Amoussouga, Robinson may be charged with a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a fine of $10,000 or both.

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