Perjury in the Butare Trial

Perjury in the Butare Trial

The Butare trial is the ICTR’s largest and longest — it began in June 2001, involves six defendants accused of genocide, and shows no signs of ending anytime soon.  The trial is likely to go on even longer because two of the defendants, former Governor Alphonse Nteziryayo and ex-Mayor Elie Ndayambaje, are ill.  And that comes not long after one of the prosecution’s key witnesses admitted that he perjured himself in 2004:

“I gave false testimony and I have highly regretted since then,” said prosecution witness code-named “QA” as everybody in the courtroom heard in complete disbelief, at least for the prosecution side. However, he did not elaborate what motivated him to lie before the UN Court.

The witness gave evidence before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on March 18, 22 and 23, 2004.

“I promise, this time I will speak the truth but previously I told lies,” insisted QA before the three-bench judges led by William Sekule of Tanzania. The rest of the hearing was in closed session.

The Chamber in its ruling dated 28 October, 2008, granted a motions filed by two accused — Joseph Kanyabashi, former Mayor of Ngoma commune and Sylvain Nsabimana, former Governor — who wanted to cross examine witness QA on additional topics as they had suspected that he had lied before the court.

It remains to be seen what effect QA’s perjury will have on the trial.  The article implies that, at most, the additional cross-examination will slow the defense case.  Seven years in, however, any delay is a bad sign.  See, e.g., Milosevic…

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Africa, Foreign Relations Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, Organizations
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