The ICTR chief prosecutor has used her last round of ammunition to prosecute those in the Cyangugu trial for sexual violence. She will soon issue a new indictment against two of the accused. Carla del Ponte was livid. When, at the end of 1995, she withdrew her request to amend the indictment in the Cyangugu file, she did so to ensure that the trial, which she hoped would begin in January 2000, would not suffer further delays. In so doing, she ran the risk of letting fresh allegations of sexual violence, which made up the bulk of her amendment, slip through the net.
An Angry Woman
In the end, the trial did not begin until September 2000. Undaunted, the chief prosecutor claims her staff advised her that evidence in support of sexual violence could nevertheless be presented during the trial, as part of the facts supporting other counts. Wrong advice. On February 13, 2001, just when the prosecution was presenting this new evidence via the 22nd prosecution witness, the defence objected on the grounds that the allegations were not contained in the indictment. The next day, the judges ruled in favour of the defence. The prosecution was prevented from bringing charges against Emmanuel Bagambiki, André Ntagerura and Samuel Imanishimwe. It was a serious setback for the office of the prosecutor and had Carla Del Ponte brimming with rage. In an interview given in Arusha on April 12, she announced her new strategy: to file a second indictment against those on trial, focusing strictly on the sexual violence committed in the prefecture of Cyangugu. The consequences of this will be serious, since it could mean that the same men currently standing trial would be tried a second time. But Del Ponte is clearly unperturbed by such a prospect.
In the meantime, once they were informed in February of the prosecutor's failure to press charges for sex crimes, a group of NGOs under the banner of the NGO Coalition on Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations, filed a motion on March 1 to be heard as an amicus curiae at the ICTR. Their aim was to persuade the court of the urgent need to amend the indictment to include specific charges of sexual violence. The trial chamber is due to rule on the motion next week. On May 9, the prosecution filed its brief in response to the NGO motion with the registry. In this response, Carla Del Ponte made a firm promise: « Whatever the case, the Prosecutor hereby gives notice that she intends to file new indictments against the accused Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe containing accusations of rape, as soon as possible. »
The two men have been warned. As has the court. And the NGO coalition too, since the prosecution is requesting that the motion for amicus curiae be thrown out. It seems that Emmanuel Bagambiki, former prefet, and Samuel Imanishimwe, the former military camp commander, may be spending a little more time in the dock.