16 November 2018

Rwanda: Genocide Prosecutor Warns Against Bribery of Witnesses

The Chief Prosecutor for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), Serge Brammertz, has sent a stern warning to those trying to bribe witnesses in cases concerning the Genocide against the Tutsi.

IRMCT took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Brammertz sounded the warning at the beginning of his two-day visit to Rwanda yesterday, that will see his office enter a cooperation framework with different institutions in the country to ease delivery of justice by the Tanzania-based Mechanism.

Together with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, National Public Prosecution Authority, Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the Military Courts and the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG), the tribunal formed what they called a Joint Task Force.

The aim of the taskforce is to provide access to information and facilitating easier information sharing that includes but not limited to Genocide fugitives.

Addressing the media, Brammertz said that he would be heading to the UN Security Council on December 11 where he intends to highlight the issue of those he says are trying to promote Genocide denial.

"This is a clear message to everyone out there, we will not accept that people corrupt witnesses, trying to change history and giving denial of genocide a chance.

We are also increasing the pressure on fugitive networks and those protecting fugitives. These two messages are some of the main points we want to tell the Security Council really soon," he said.

Brammertz's warning follows the arrest of five people in Rwanda in September on suspicion of using bribery and coercion to secure reversal of witness testimonies in a case of a convicted Genocide mastermind, Augustin Ngirabatware.

Ngirabatware is a former Minister of Planning in the genocidal government, who is serving a 30-year prison.

The suspects are accused of directly, and through others, offering bribes and exerting pressure to influence the evidence of protected witnesses in order to reverse a conviction that had been upheld by the MICT Appeals Chamber.

The five suspects, all Rwandans, were arrested in September on an indictment issued by Brammertz and shortly transferred to Arusha, Tanzania where they will stand trial.

About the Joint Task Force

Shedding light on the Joint Task Force that was formed yesterday, Brammertz said that the partnership would be beneficial to all the institutions involved because there was a lot of information that could be shared to bring to justice those who committed the atrocities.

"We are actively looking for fugitives so we are constantly updating files so this is mostly about information sharing. We want to facilitate access to information because we have more than one million documents which are potentially beneficial to the cases regarding the fugitives this country is still looking for," he said.

He pointed out that his office continues to work with partners like Interpol and was into talks with more than ten countries where fugitives were suspected to be hiding.

The Inspector General of National Public Prosecution Authority, Jules Marius Ntete, told reporters that the joint task force would work hand-in-hand with the Mechanism to ensure it delivers justice for Rwandans.

"We realised that it is very important to have that kind of synergy. In the past, every institution worked alone but we have put in a lot of efforts so that these fugitives can be brought to justice,' he said.

The court, which was established to try masterminds of the Genocide against the Tutsi, is still looking for three key fugitives - Felicien Kabuga, the financier of the Genocide, former Minister of Defence Augustin Bizimungu, and notorious officer of Ex-FAR, Protais Mpinranya.

The other six fugitives indicted by the tribunal but remain at large were referred to Rwanda for trial.

Brammertz is expected to meet Justice minister Johnston Busingye on Friday.

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