ICTR Defense Attorney Arrested for Genocide

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Australian is reporting that Tanzanian police have arrested Callixte Gakwaya, a defence attorney at the ICTR, on suspicion of involvement in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“He was arrested yesterday. He is now in custody,” regional police commander Basilio Matei said.

According to the arrest warrant, Gakwaya – who leads the defence team of a genocide suspect whose case comes up before the ICTR in January – supervised road blocks and massacred Tutsis as they tried to flee the Rwandan capital.

“Several Tutsis were killed,” according to the warrant.

He is also accused of personally killing Tutsis who sought refuge in his home.

Rwanda’s representative at the tribunal, Aloys Mutabingwa, confirmed Gakwaya’s arrest and said it showed “excellent co-operation with Tanzanian police”.

“Tanzania can refer him to its courts or extradite him to Rwanda. All we want is justice to be done,” Mr Mutabingwa said.

Additional information about the Gakwaya case is available in an earlier post, here.


One Response

  1. On this subject, I am enclosing the following release from the ICTR Registry. Without comment on the Rwandan government’s actual claim, there is an important question of international versus national jurisdiction.

    Arusha, 5 September 2006

    Arrest of Counsel Callixte Gakwaya

    Following the arrest of Defence Counsel Callixte Gakwaya, Lead Counsel for the accused Yusuf Munyakasi, on Friday 1 September 2006, the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr Adama Dieng,

    expressed his strong concern to the Tanzanian authorities and requested clarification of the reasons for the arrest. Mr Dieng notes that the Tribunal did not receive any prior notice of the intention to arrest Mr.Gakwaya and that no prior consultations have occurred in respect of the case between officials of the ICTR and the Tanzanian police force.

    As soon as the Tribunal was informed appropriate measures were taken to secure the welfare of Mr. Gakwaya in police custody. Security officers have visited the Central police station in Arusha on several occasions and have

    spoken to Mr. Gakwaya. The Chief of the Security of the ICTR has discussed the circumstances of the arrest with his counterpart in the Tanzanian police, seeking further

    clarification of the circumstances of the arrest. Officials of the Tribunal continue to monitor the case closely on behalf of the Registrar.

    The Registrar of the ICTR observes that he has no warrant of arrest to execute from any Government. The directives that the Registrar has received are from the Appeals and Trials Chambers of the Tribunal.

    The Registrar notes that the agreement made between the United Nations and the United Republic of Tanzania provides for certain immunities in respect of Counsel admitted to represent those accused before the Tribunal. In particular, the Agreement required that Counsel “shall not be subjected to any measure which may affect the free and independent exercise of his or her functions under the Statute.” The Registrar notes that Mr. Gakwaya was present in Tanzania in his official capacity as Counsel for an accused.

    The Registrar wishes to underline that he exercises his functions in full independence in accordance with the Statute of the Tribunal and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and not on the basis of the partial interests of

    the parties before the Tribunal or under external pressures.


    Please reply to:

    ictr-press [at] un [dot] org

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