KIGALI - As the defendants in the trial of Victoire Ingabire and her four co-accused took the floor for the second day, court heard that the evidence expected from Holland was, once again, being delayed by the key defendant.
Before the defence hearing proceeded, yesterday, prosecution informed the presiding judge that the Dutch government notified them that Ingabire’s defence demanded they be shown the documents before their transfer.
The documents became the centre of contention at the opening of the substantive trial on September 5, when the prosecution requested the trial chamber to adjourn the trial, pending the transfer of the documents, which had been blocked by Ingabire’s family.
However, early last week, prosecution informed court that the family lawyers in Holland had given up on the appeal, saying that the documents would be sent before the end of this month.
According to prosecutor Alphonse Hitiyaremye, in a letter dated September 19, the Netherlands government expressed its worry that Ingabire’s defence was obstructing the transfer process.
“Your honour, though the Netherlands government is showing willingness in the justice process of this trial, Ingabire’s defence team is applying delaying tactics to the trial,” Hitiyaremye said.
“We seem to be dealing with two uncoordinated defence teams or the actions are tactics meant to delay the progress of this trial,” reiterated prosecuting attorney, Bonaventure Ruberwa.
Judge Alice Rulisa instructed the lead defense counsel, Ian Edwards, to sort out the issue with his team to ensure that the documents are transferred on time.
Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, explained why it was important to have the documents from Holland transferred to Court.
“It is not about the insufficiency of what we have in evidence so far, rather, the exhaustiveness of the process, one in which every available piece of evidence is put before the court and both parties given a chance to address them,” Ngoga said.
He emphasised that the standing decision by the court in Holland is that the documents must be handed over to Rwanda.
“The series of correspondences we have been exchanging with the Dutch political authorities are directed at reaching a political decision. We believe the political decision when taken will not be in contradiction with the judicial decision,” he said.
The Prosecutor General added that this belief is further re-enforced by the fact that prosecution accepted all the conditions concerning the use of the documents when they arrive.
The condition set by Holland, according to prosecution, is that the evidence in question be used strictly on the terrorism charge against Ingabire who is being tried on six charges, including promoting and harbouring of the genocide ideology.
According to Prosecution, the evidence in Holland includes files found in Ingabire’s house containing proof of her subversive activities, telephone records showing communication with the former FDLR militia commanders and testimonies of people in Holland who worked with Ingabire to destabilise the country.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Tharcisse Nditurende continued to present his defence before the high court yesterday. Other defendants are expected to take the floor today.