Five people have been arrested in Rwanda for allegedly seeking to bribe and intimidate witnesses in order to overturn a genocide conviction at the UN tribunal in neighbouring Tanzania, the court said Wednesday.
Contempt of court warrants for Maximilien Turinabo, Anselme Nzabonimpa, Jean de Dieu Ndagijimana, Marie Rose Fatuma and Dick Prudence Munyeshuli were issued under seal on August 24, and the five were arrested in Rwanda on Monday.
The UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals has, since 2010, handled outstanding and ongoing cases from the former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that tried suspects in the 1994 genocide that killed around 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis.
The court said in a statement that the five had “offered bribes and exerted pressure to influence the evidence of protected witnesses” in the case of Augustin Ngirabatware, a former Rwanda government minister whose appeal against a 30-year sentence is due to be heard later this month.
“The alleged aim of these efforts was to secure the reversal of Augustin Ngirabatware’s conviction… for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, instigating genocide and aiding and abetting genocide,” the statement read.
“I wish to express our gratitude to the Rwandan authorities for promptly executing the… arrest warrants and apprehending the five accused,” said chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz.
“My office underscores our determination to stand against all efforts to interfere with witnesses and the proper administration of justice,” he added.
The five accused are due to be transferred to the court’s branch in Arusha, Tanzania.