Arusha, September 29th (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has withdrawn Congolese lawyer Patricie Mongo from the genocide case of former Rwandan Interior Minister Edouard Karemera, court sources said on Wednesday. Ms Mongo had been assigned by the court Registry.

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"She has been withdrawn from the case at both her own request and the request of Mr Karemera," said Alessandro Calderone, the Italian head of the ICTR's defence section. Calderone was speaking as the tribunal convened to hear defence motions in the Karemera case. The motions call for the accused to be set free and for documents to be returned to him. However, the court judges deemed that the accused was not in a position to defend himself, given the little time he had had to prepare. They adjourned the hearing until further notice. Karemera told the court he had been informed of the hearing only on Tuesday evening. He said he wanted the problem of his lawyer settled before the defence motions were heard. The former minister has asked to be represented by Canadian lawyer Antoine Léger. However, the ICTR Registry has imposed a temporary ban on Canadian and French lawyers, saying there are too many of them working for the ICTR compared with other nationalities. The court ordered the Registry to assign another lawyer to Karemera as quickly as possible, so that his trial can proceed. Karemera, a member of the Rwandan interim government that presided over the 1994 genocide, is expected to be tried with a group of other ex-politicans. On April 7th this year, the first defence counsel assigned to Karemera, Emmanuel Leclerc of Belgium, wihdrew from the case because of differences of opinion with his client. "The events in Rwanda in 1994 are referred to by some as genocide and by others as massacres by both sides," Leclerc explained at the time. "So far as I am concerned, the only correct term is genocide. Mr Karemera holds a different opinion. "As we do not define the 1994 events in the same terms, it would seem to me very difficult to continue defending my client without doing him a disservice," he said in a letter to the ICTR. The ICTR also heard a motion on Wednesday from Jérôme Bicamumpaka, former foreign minister in the interim government, who was demanding to be assigned Canadian lawyer Francine Veuillet. Bicamumpaka has been asking for Ms Veuillet since April 18th. In the absence of a lawyer, Bicamumpaka presented the motion himself. The head of the ICTR's defence section told the court that no lawyer had yet been assigned, as investigations were still under way to establish whether or not the accused was indigent. AT/JC/FH (PL§0929e)