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ICTR prosecutor uses new rule to preserve evidence against fugitive genocide financier

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] used a new procedure Monday to begin hearing evidence against alleged genocide financier Felicien Kabuga [JURIST news archive] who has yet to be arrested. The special deposition hearing allows for evidence to be heard before the court and preserved in the accused's absence pursuant to the new Rule 71 bis of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence [text, PDF]. Rule 71 bis states that "if within a reasonable time, a warrant of arrest has not been executed, the Prosecutor may submit a request to the President that evidence relating to the indictment be preserved for a further trial by special deposition recorded in a proceeding conducted by a single Judge." The prosecutor wants to preserve in the absence of Kabuga for fear that it may be lost due to death, the passage of time or the unavailability of witnesses in the future. Rule 71 bis was adopted [AFP report] by the judges in a plenary session in 2009, and the proceeding is unprecedented in the ICTR. It is believed that Kabuga is in Kenya, and the ICTR has previously called [JURIST report] for him to be turned over, but he nonetheless remains in hiding. Kabuga is accused of providing militia with tens of thousands of machetes used in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

The ICTR continues to prosecute individuals for their roles in the Rwandan genocide. In March the ICTR handed out its strongest punishment to date [JURIST report], life in prison, against Jean-Baptiste Gatete, the former Mayor of Murambi Commune in Byumba prefecture. Gatete's case was one of several Rwandan genocide cases not transferred to Rwandan authorities [JURIST report]. In January the trial of former military official Idelphonse Nizeyimana [BBC profile], nicknamed the "Butcher of Butare" [RNW report], began before the ICTR [JURIST report]. Nizeyimana is accused of being among the Rwanda Armed Forces officers who played key roles in the Rwandan genocide. In December a French court charged [JURIST report] Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] leader Callixte Mbarushimana with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Rwandan genocide after the ICTR refused to file charges against him due to insufficient evidence. In September, the trial of Gregoire Ndahimana, former governor of Kivumu, Rwanda, began before the ICTR [JURIST report] for his alleged role in the bulldozing of a parish which resulted in the deaths of 2,000 individuals hiding inside.

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