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contribution 02 - Roux François

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Accused realeased - Guilty plea

François ROUX

transtlated version

Thank you.

This has been a practice, a common practice for that matter, before the ICTR. It might suffice to recall that while there were not many pleas of guilty before the ICTR, we owe ourselves the truth. It is because of the failure of the plea bargain of Kambanda which scarred the detainees and who told themselves, "He pled guilty and he still was slammed a life sentence, and I do not know why I have to plead guilty in respect of my liability." So 15 years after the first pleas of guilty, nothing much happened.

When I was entrusted with the Vincent Rutaganira trial, when we started talking about the possibility of pleading guilty, we were like those who paved the way, pave setters for that matter. The first acquittal of the Tribunal

Before that, let me recall that the word "acquittal" was not even mentioned in the Statute of the Tribunal, and that is telling about our discussions this afternoon. At the time the term was not worded in the Statute. Nobody knew what would happen. Much has not changed ever since.

In respect of pleas of guilty, what I should say is that these were processes. When they resumed, kind of spurred on the other defendants. In the Rutaganira trial, the Tribunal produced a beautiful 26 minute film on I believe, you all have taken copies at the registration desk. It was a milestone produced by the audiovisual service of the Tribunal.

Also, I would like to lay emphasis on the ex post facto in the short documentary on Vincent Rutaganira, you have a statement from the registrar wherein he highlights the achievements of the ICTR in terms of the truth in term of the memory especially terms of the plea of guilty and Adama Dieng is also has financial benefits for the Tribunal. Yes, but what happens thereafter?

It must be therefore on record that nothing happens thereafter. None withstanding the promises or pledges made to the person pleading guilty, saying, "You will be sported. We will assist you." Nothing happens. Vincent Rutaganira plead guilty and he was sentenced to a moderate sentence, and his wife, who testified in full view, when she returned to Rwanda, was thrown into jail. And he, when he was acquitted, had only himself to blame. Today he is settled in a refugee camp.

Joseph Nzabirinda, after pleading guilty, one of his key witnesses was arrested for 15 years. And for all those acquitted persons, we are still trying to seek a solution. As Joseph Nzabirinda is still in the corridors of the ICTR. Those who are still in detention are those who have paid their due to the society. And even those who have been acquitted are those who are also paying the price and even have contributed to the development of the Rwandan society as highlighted in the film. Because when somebody stands before the ICTR to say, "I acknowledge my crimes, and I beg for forgiveness for my victims," and I think that is a priceless achievement of the ICTR, by giving people the opportunity to voice their opinions. And it is important for their country to acknowledge their own crimes. Once they are convicted, once they are released, what do we do? I know on a personal basis, Adama Dieng, or other persons, or Pascal Besnier, are trying to do something.

But from an institutional perspective, there is nothing. We are in a total vacuum as people are just hanging around after they have served their time. And I am sad. This saddens me because I have always stated that it is part and parcel of ensuring the credibility of our courts. And it should serve as an example which should be emulated by others.
That is what I had to state.

A. GARAPON

Thank you very much. You have raised two issues. And the Kambanda issue brings to the fore the Tadic case and which is one of the challenges facing the international Tribunals which have short life spans and which between birth and both death, the time span is extremely short and complicated.

Yes, Bernard Muna