ICTR/MANDATE - THE ICTR'S MANDATE COVERS THE HABYARIMANA ASSASSINATION (DES FORGES)
Arusha, March 6, 2007 – Allison Des Forges, expert witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and in charge of Africa for the organization Human Rights Watch, affirmed Tuesday before the ICTR that she could not understand why no investigation had been opened into the downing of Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane.
“I am of the same opinion of Judge Goldstone, the first prosecutor of the ICTR, that this is part of the tribunal’s mandate,” she said during her cross-examination in Tharcisse Renzaho’s trial. According to the prosecutor currently in place, Mr. Abubacar Jallow, the investigation into the assassination which sparked the genocide is not part of the ICTR’s mandate.
Questioned by Mr. Francois Cantier, Renzaho’s lawyer, Mrs. Des Forges affirmed that she had no precise source but that it was “probable” that it was either the RPF which was the cause of the assassination or that it is of “capital importance that the ICTR delivers an official declaration on the basis of an investigation so that any doubt can be lifted on this assassination.” “It is difficult to understand the reasons for which such an investigation has not been conducted,” she said.
This investigation had been opened and conducted in 1997, notably by an Australian investigator at the Office of the Prosecutor, Mr. Michael Hourigan, who was banned from continuing it by Richard Goldstone’s successor, the Canadian Louise Arbour. Afterwards, only one French investigation, decided on the complaints of the families of the French pilots of the airplane, was conducted in Paris. It concluded last November and implicated those close to the current regime in Kigali. Nine international arrest warrants were signed and the judge in charge of the investigation demanded that the Rwandan president himself, Mr. Paul Kagame, be handed over to the ICTR. This investigation brought about a break in diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France.
© Hirondelle News Agency