Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Rwanda Tribunal Issues First Contempt Charge

Witness in trial of ex-government official alleged to have lied under oath.
The United Nations Rwandan war crimes tribunal this week issued a contempt of court indictment against a witness who gave false testimony during the trial of the country's former higher education minister.

Judge Jai Ram Reddy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, confirmed the indictment on June 11 at the prosecutors’ request and issued a warrant for the arrest of the witness, identified only by the code name GAA.

This is the first time that the ICTR – which was created in 1994 - has issued an indictment for false testimony and contempt of court. It arises from an investigation by prosecutors ordered by the tribunal's appeals chamber, after it upheld the conviction of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda in September 2005. Witnesses in this trial were allegedly induced to give false testimony under oath.

Kamuhanda is serving concurrent life sentences following his conviction for genocide and extermination for his role in the mass killings that engulfed the small African country in less than three months in 1994.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered.

Meanwhile, ICTR prosecutors this week requested the transfer of the case of Fulgence Kayishema to Rwanda for trial - the first such request for a transfer from the UN tribunal to Rwandan national jurisdiction.

Kayishema was inspector of police in Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture during the 1994 genocide.

He faces charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

The Rwandan government has said it is willing and ready to prosecute Kayishema and has given assurances he will receive a fair trial and not be subject to the death penalty.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague project manager.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.


More IWPR's Global Voices