ARUSHA - A witness yesterday testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of having refused to take a bribe from embattled lawyer Léonidas Nshogoza.
Nshogoza, a former investigator in the case involving a former minister who is on trial at the Tanzania based tribunal, was accused by a witness code-named GAA of having tried to bribe him to give false testimony before the court.
The accused was a defence investigator in the trial of a former Rwandan Minister for Culture and Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda.
Nshogoza is accused of two counts of contempt of court and two others of attempting to commit acts punishable as contempt of the Tribunal.
After an opening statement by the prosecution, Trial Chamber III composed of judges Khalida R. Khan, presiding, Lee G. Muthoga and Aydin Akay, called the highly protected witness to the witness box to testify.
The witness, who could only be identified as GAA for security purposes, revealed that through another witness identified only as 21, Nshogoza promised to give him ‘something’ in return for him giving the court false evidence that would finally mitigate Kamuhanda’s Genocide case.
Kamuhanda was later sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005 on counts that included; conspiracy to commit Genocide, and Genocide, or alternatively, complicity in Genocide.
“This is the same information I gave the investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor in Remera whom I met…I told them that I came to know Leonidas Nshogoza through (witness) 21, I didn’t note the date but it was in 2005,” the witness said.
The witness, who is among the six witnesses to be paraded by the prosecution, also told the court that witness 21 always visited and persuaded him and his wife several times to give false testimonies, and that they would in turn be paid handsomely for the service done.
“I warned my wife against falling victim to bribery acts, I told her not to listen to this person because I knew all the repercussions that would follow,” the witness said.
Senior Trial Attorney Paul Ng’arua had earlier told court that much as the case was simple, the charges were very serious because it involves an attempt to pervert justice in a genocide case and interfering in the administration of justice.
Ng’arua emphasized that the accused deliberately manipulated, induced and promised a bribe reward of not less than Rwf 1,000,000 (approx.$2,000) for GAA to give false testimony.
The Prosecution added that it would bring forth evidence showing that the accused committed the offences with intent to fabricate additional evidence and procure false statements for use in support of the appeal against conviction and sentence of Kamuhanda.
A person convicted of contempt of court at the ICTR faces a maximum sentence of five years or a fine of US $ 10,000 or both.
Born in 1961 in Muhanga, Southern Province, Nshogoza surrendered to the UN court in Arusha, Tanzania in February 2008. He was immediately placed under ICTR custody.