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Witness who falsely testified at Rwandan genocide trial jailed by UN tribunal

Witness who falsely testified at Rwandan genocide trial jailed by UN tribunal

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1994 Rwandan genocide today sentenced a former witness to nine months in prison for giving false testimony during the trial of the country’s former higher education minister.

The witness, identified only by the code name GAA, pleaded guilty to one count of contempt of court at a hearing this morning of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which sits in Arusha, Tanzania. He had already pleaded guilty to a separate count of giving false testimony under solemn declaration.

It is the Tribunal’s first prosecution for contempt of court and for giving false testimony.

GAA was arrested in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in July and transferred to the ICTR a month later following an investigation by prosecutors on the direction of the Tribunal’s appeals chamber when it upheld the conviction of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda in September 2005. Witnesses in that trial were allegedly induced to give false testimony under oath.

Mr. Kamuhanda is serving concurrent life sentences after being convicted of genocide and extermination for his role in the mass killings that engulfed the small African country in less than three months in 1994. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, often by machete or club.

Judges at the ICTR found Mr. Kamuhanda had supervised the killings in his native Gikomero commune in the Kigali-Rural prefecture. He distributed firearms, grenades and machetes to the Hutu Interahamwe militia and led attacks at the parish church and adjoining school in Gikomero, where several thousand Tutsi civilians were killed.