Saturday, March 18, 2006

IBIHWIHWISWA Rwanda ICTR-Arusha: The protected witness G testified for 12 days

Ahmed Napoleon Mbonyunkiza and the protected witness G testified for 13 and 12 days each respectively.
G nka GARAGAZA Michel (Igihuha)
Rwanda: Trial of Former Senior Politicians Marked By Long Testimonies

Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne)
March 16, 2006 Posted to the web March 17, 2006

The trial of three former senior Rwandan politicians before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has been marked by long testimonies of prosecution witnesses.

The trial groups together the former president of the Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement (MRND), Mathieu Ngirumpatse, his vice president Edward Karemera and the secretary-general Joseph Nzirorera.

Three factual witnesses who have testified so far since the trial restarted in September 19th 2005 have each taken more than one week on the witness stand.

The third witness code-named UB to conceal his identity who concluded on Wednesday, testified for a total of 20 days.

Most of the days were taken by cross-examination by the defence teams in the case.

The witness is a former councillor in Kigali City and a long standing member of the MRND.

His testimony centred on the activities of the MRND top leadership and the party's youth wing Interahamwe which was later transformed into a militia movement.

The other witnesses Ahmed Napoleon Mbonyunkiza and the protected witness G testified for 13 and 12 days each respectively.

Mbonyunkiza, a former youth leader of the (MRND) in Kigali also testified on the activities of the Interahamwe and the MRND.

Witness G testified via video link from the Hague. Most of his testimony was taken in closed session.

With the prosecutor's case moving at such a slow pace, the trial still has a long way to go, given that the prosecutor intends to call over 70 witnesses out of which five are experts.

The trial has also been dogged by obstacles dating back from the incident in which the then presiding judge Andresia Vaz (Senegal) was accused by the defence of sharing accommodation with one of the prosecuting attorneys in May 2004.

The defence successfully challenged the impartiality of the judge in the Appeals Chamber. In its decision, the Appeals Chamber ordered that the trial be started again. By then twelve prosecution witnesses had testified since the start of the trial in November 27th 2003. A new bench of judges had to be composed to hear the trial afresh.

The prosecutor also sought a separate trial for Andre Rwamakuba, former minister for education, who had initially been jointly accused with the three leaders.

Rwamakuba's trial has reached final stages and the parties are awaiting to make the closing arguments before the judges retreat to deliberate the judgment.

An amended indictment for the three accused had to be filed before the trial restarted. It finally took off in September 19th 2005.

The three leaders have each pleaded not guilty to seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.


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