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Feds to Argue Rwandan Witnesses Inherently Liars

Last year, 83-year-old Lazare Kobagaya was charged with immigration violations for allegedly failing to disclose in his immigration papers that he was a participant in the atrocities committed in Rwanda in 1994. I think we can all understand why he chose to roll the dice on that one. Checking off the "Y" next to "mobilizing attackers to commit arson and murder" probably gets your application on the express bus to rejection land.

Today, in federal district court in Wichita, Judge Monti Belot is holding a hearing, at which a government expert will apparently try to convince the judge that two defense witnesses should be precluded from testifying at trial, as "Rwandan witnesses are inherently unreliable because they're controlled by the government of the African nation."

Though the AP's story is short on details, it sounds as though the preclusion argument is that all Rwandans lie, so we shouldn't let them testify. Last I checked, credibility was an issue for the jury. If the two proposed defense witnesses are being proffered as experts, and this is a Daubert challenge, I hope the government's argument is better than the blurb makes it sound. 

Timothy Longman, director of the African Studies Center at Boston University, has been identified as a government expert, though there's no way of knowing for sure that he's the expert who will supposedly testify that Rwandans can't be trusted. His former employer, Human Rights Watch, is reported to be fighting subpoenas issued to it in connection with the case. According to Kurt Kerns, Kobagaya's lawyer, this is because the requested documents might contain exculpatory information.

Posted by Eric Lipman on April 28, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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