News / Africa

Rwanda Tribunal Lawyers Denounce Killing of One of Their Own

TEXT SIZE - +

An association of lawyers working at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has denounced the recent killing of one of their colleagues.  They also expressed grave concern at the series of murders, arrests and assassination attempts in the run-up to Rwanda's presidential election next month. 

The statement by a collective of defense lawyers at the Tanzania-based tribunal for Rwanda, known by its acronym ICTR, was released following the killing of law professor Jwani Mwaikusa earlier this week near his home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The head of the association, American lawyer and law professor Peter Erlinder, told VOA Mwaikusa had been very active at the tribunal. "Professor Mwaikusa had been successful in preventing a number of cases from being transferred from the ICTR to Rwanda and he also had recently completed a trial in which he announced he was going to be filing an appeal," he said.

Mwaikusa had said the trials would not be fair if they were held in Rwanda.

Erlinder himself was recently jailed for nearly a month in Rwanda on charges of challenging the government's official history of what happened during the 1994 genocide, after trying to represent an opposition leader who was also jailed on genocide denial charges.

The statement calls for an independent investigation of the Mwaikusa murder, as well as guarantees from the United Nations Security Council to ensure the safety of the tribunal's defense lawyers.

Erlinder also said evidence necessary to defense teams is being withheld at the tribunal, and he called for fully disclosing evidence of crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 by both the former government and current leadership.

"We have a situation where the entire defense at the ICTR is finding itself in a situation where it is very hard to do its work," he said.

The statement by the lawyers said they were afraid Mwaikusa's murder was not isolated.  It followed last month's assassination attempt against a former ally turned opponent of Rwandan President Paul Kagame in South Africa, the killing of a journalist in Kigali who was investigating the assassination bid, and the near decapitation of an official from Rwanda's opposition Democratic Green Party, who was found dead near his car earlier this week near the southern town of Butare.

Rwandan authorities have denied any link between the series of murders and attacks and the upcoming election, saying those who insinuate a crackdown is taking place are in their words "frustrated" politicians.

Mr. Kagame, who led the Uganda-backed ethnic minority Tutsi rebellion that took over Rwanda from its Hutu-led government after the genocide, was elected in 2003 with more than 95 percent of the vote. He has expressed confidence he will be re-elected in August.

Rwandan police say they arrested a man in connection with the killing of the opposition leader, saying he was a businessman connected with the Green Party.

Several suspects have been arrested in the case of the journalist.

But there is growing international pressure on Rwanda's government to clarify the situation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a full investigation into the deaths of the journalist and the opposition leader.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero recently called off a planned meeting with Mr. Kagame, after protests by Spanish human rights groups.  

In Spain, a case is pending against dozens of current and former Rwandan officers who have been indicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for alleged reprisal killings during and after the 1994 genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

Spanish law allows its courts to prosecute crimes against humanity even if those crimes took place elsewhere.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid