Activists have requested judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to give less value to former politician Joseph Nzirorera’s request to have convicted persons testifying in his defence.
According to agencies, Nzirorera’s lawyer recently requested the appearances of Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the extremist newspaper Kangura, Ferdinand Nahimana, Samuel Imanishimwe and Georges Rutaganda as defence witnesses.
“I don’t think they can have any contribution on him being freed. They worked together with Nzirorera in committing the Genocide he is accused of, but it is his right to call them, so let’s leave it to the judges to decide,” said Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG)
An ex-Secretary General of the former ruling party MRND, Nzirorera is currently standing trial at the Arusha based tribunal for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Nahimana and Ngeze are serving jail terms in Mali. Imanishimwe has completed his sentence but is still in Mali, upon request of his lawyer, while Rutaganda is currently serving his sentence in Benin.
Augustin Nkusi, the Spokesperson of the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA, said that the witnesses may help the judges in verifying certain information given by Nzirorera, but cautioned that they don’t have any moral authority to defend someone in court.
“Which moral authority do they have when most of them are serving prison sentences for crimes committed during the Genocide?” he asked.
“There is doubt that they can speak the truth and judges should give this less value.”
Nzirorera’s defence has requested that these witnesses appear before the court between April 12 and May 14.
The defendant has already called three other ICTR detainees on the defence witness stand.
Through his defence team, Nzirorera has called a total of 25 witnesses and intends to call upon thirty more before closing the defence case in June.
Nzirorera is tried jointly with Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, who held the positions of MRND president and vice-president respectively at the time of the genocide.