News / Africa

Rwanda Tribunal Lawyers Denounce Killing of One of Their Own

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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid