Resuming of trial in the Turinabo et al. contempt case: Practical information and case background
The trial in the contempt case of Prosecutor v. Maximilien Turinabo et al. (MICT-18-116-T) before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) will resume before Judge Vagn Joensen, the Single Judge assigned to the case, on Monday, 8 March 2021 at 10.00 a.m. EAT and 8.00 a.m. CEST at the Mechanism’s Arusha branch, with Defence oral arguments for judgement of acquittal pursuant to Rule 121 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The response from the Prosecution will be heard on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 starting at 10.00 a.m. EAT and 8.00 a.m. CEST. The Single Judge will rule on the Defence motions for judgement of acquittal and subsequently, the Pre-Defence Conference will be held on Friday, 12 March 2021. Defence opening statements and the presentation of evidence are expected to commence on Monday, 15 March 2021. Information on hearing times throughout the trial will be available here.
Please note that due to COVID-19-related restrictions, there will be no access to the Mechanism premises for media representatives and members of the public wishing to attend the hearings.
The hearing will be publicly broadcast on the Mechanism’s website with a 30-minute delay, and available at the following link.
Inquiries about the proceedings can be addressed via e-mail to mict-press[AT]un.org
On 24 August 2018, Judge Seon Ki Park confirmed an Indictment against Maximilien Turinabo, Anselme Nzabonimpa, Jean de Dieu Ndagijimana, Marie Rose Fatuma, and Dick Prudence Munyeshuli (Turinabo et al.), dated 5 June 2018 for contempt of court and incitement to commit contempt, pursuant to Article 1(4)(a) of the Mechanism’s Statute (Statute) and Rule 90 of the Mechanism’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence (Rules). Judge Joensen was assigned as the Single Judge in this case on 11 September 2018. Subsequent to Defence challenges to the form of the indictments as well as a Prosecution motion to amend the indictment, the operative Indictment was filed on 21 October 2019.
On 10 October 2019, Judge Vagn Joensen, acting in his capacity as the Duty Judge for the Arusha branch, confirmed an Indictment against Augustin Ngirabatware, dated 9 August 2019, for contempt of court and incitement to commit contempt, pursuant to Article 1(4)(a) of the Statute and Rule 90 of the Rules. Judge Joensen was assigned as the Single Judge in this case on 11 October 2019.
On 10 December 2019, Judge Vagn Joensen issued a decision joining the Ngirabatware case with the Turinabo et al. case. Each of the six accused has pleaded not guilty to the respective count or counts charged against him or her.
The trial commenced on 22 October 2020 with the Prosecution’s opening statement. In addition, the Defence teams for Dick Prudence Munyeshuli and Augustin Ngirabatware elected to give opening statements at this time, and Maximilien Turinabo also gave a statement in accordance with Rule 101 of the Rules. Nine Prosecution witnesses testified between 26 October and 24 November 2020.
The Prosecution alleges in the Turinabo et al. Indictment that, from at least August 2015 to September 2018, Maximilien Turinabo, Anselme Nzabonimpa, Jean de Dieu Ndagijimana, and Marie Rose Fatuma sought to overturn Augustin Ngirabatware’s final conviction by interfering with the administration of justice, directly and/or through others, including by pressuring, offering bribes to, and otherwise influencing protected witnesses. In addition, or in the alternative, the Prosecution alleges that they incited others to commit contempt by interfering with protected witnesses. Furthermore, the Prosecution alleges that Dick Prudence Munyeshuli and Maximilien Turinabo knowingly violated the protective measures ordered by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by disclosing the identities of protected witnesses, and that Dick Prudence Munyeshuli had prohibited indirect contact with the protected witnesses in knowing violation of court orders.
The Prosecution alleges in the Ngirabatware Indictment that, from at least August 2015 to September 2018, Augustin Ngirabatware, directly and/or through Maximilien Turinabo, Anselme Nzabonimpa, Jean de Dieu Ndagijimana, and/or Marie Rose Fatuma sought to influence protected witnesses to recant their trial testimonies in order to overturn his final conviction, thereby interfering with the administration of justice. In addition, or in the alternative, the Prosecution alleges that Augustin Ngirabatware knowingly and wilfully incited others to commit contempt of the ICTR and the Mechanism. Furthermore, the Prosecution alleges that Augustin Ngirabatware knowingly disclosed confidential information and had prohibited contact with a protected witness in knowing violation of court orders.
The Mechanism was established on 22 December 2010 by the United Nations Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions of the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, including the completion of a limited number of cases which are inherited from the work of these two tribunals.