|M Olufemi Elias
Mechanism for International
|Ms Sera Attika
Assistant Chief of Registry, Arusha Division
Witness Support and Protection Unit (WISP)
Mechanism for International
We are writing to you to request a formal investigation into the kidnapping of protected witness and former ICTR defence employee, Jean Chrysostome Ntirugiribambe on 23 June 2015 by Rwandan authorities. Mr. Jean Chrysostome Ntirugiribambe was publicly and violently kidnapped in Nairobi by suspected Kigali Department of Military Intelligence agents (DMI) working in co-operation with some elements of the Kenyan police.
Defence Witness/Legal Officer/ Investigator Ntirugiribambe is believed to be still alive but is currently in serious danger as he lives continually under torture and sequestration. It is urgent for your office to undertake an official investigation and make use of the legal authority of the MICT.
We have been informed that, in 2006, Mr Ntirugiribambe was threatened by the Kigali Government, first through its Representative to the ICTR, Mr. Aloys Mutabingwa, then through officials of the Rwandan Office of the Chief of the Army Staff in Kigali. Initially, they attempted to convince him to return to Kigali to work for them with promises of military promotions. Since this attempt was not successful, the Office of the Army staff in Kigali attempted to convince him to become a witness in the case brought against General Laurent Munyakazi in the Kigali Military Court.
In spite of Mr. Ntirugiribambe’s rejection of this proposal, the Kigali Government continued with its threats. The matter finally was brought to the attention of ICTR lawyers and to the ICTR Trial Chamber and to your offices with copies to Ms. Sylvie Becky and Mr Essombe-Edimo as shown in redacted Annex I provided by the family of Mr. Ntirugiribambe. I can provide you, under separate cover, an unredacted copy.
The threats recommenced in 2014. We are informed that sources close to the Rwandan Embassy in Nairobi where the Ntirugiribambe family was residing continually repeated that Mr. Ntirugiribambe held a lot of secrets since he worked on sensitive ICTR cases and testified in some of them. The same source also stated that the Kigali Government allegedly wanted to arrest Jean Chrysostome and force him to talk. Unfortunately, the threats materialized on 23 June 2015 with his public kidnapping in Nairobi.
Mr Ntirugiribambe’s family informed me that he was a protected witness in several cases at the ICTR. I do not know his testimony officially but the protection of witnesses does not prevent Kigali from knowing key court testimonies. Former Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte spoke of the infiltration of the Tribunal by the Kigali Government. We understand that the testimony of this well-informed protected witness enlightened the Tribunal on issues of paramount importance in the major cases such as Military I, Military II and Karemera et al. Mr Ntirugiribambe’s testimony was a factor in the acquittals of accused VIPs, including generals which no doubt incurred the wrath of Kigali.
The kidnapping and torture of a protected witness is reason for intervention by the ICTR/MICT. As you know, all witness protection decisions apply to witnesses as soon as they are designated either by the Prosecutor or the Defence before, during and after their testimony. Article 6 of the Policy for the Provision of Support and Protection Services to Victims and Witnesses states: “WISP shall provide witness support and protection services, in application of principles common to both branches prior to, during and after testimony.” (Our underlining). This protection by the Tribunal applies fully right now. The Chambers place great emphasis on the strict application of such measures.
On 15 Jan 2017, Mr Ntirugiribambe’s family sent an email to your services but no reply has been given to them. The victim’s children are disappointed by the silence of the MICT over the past two years. (See annex II).
We understand you are aware of the murder and/or arrest of ICTR employees, likely carried out on behalf of the Rwandan Government, including:
- Jwani Mwaikusa, defense attorney, killed in Dar es Salaam in 2010, almost certainly by Kagame.
- Callixte Gakwaya, defense attorney, killed by poisoning in Maputo, Mozambique. They had tried to arrest him while in Arusha but he escaped and returned to Mozambique where he died few days later.
- Aloys Nyilingondo, investigator, found dead in Malawi. The RPF was suspect because he was the first defense investigator to speak to RPF insiders.
- Professor of Law, Peter Erlinder, arrested and charged in Kigali in June 2010 and released after an international campaign.
This list is non-exhaustive.
We would request that the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) implement a formal investigation into the kidnapping of Mr Ntirugiribambe on an urgent basis. It could also be possible to file a motion before a trial chamber urging such an investigation.
We thank you very much for your consideration of this urgent matter.
President of the Rwandan Political Prisoners Support Network