Arusha, September 17th, '99 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday granted a prosecution request to amend the indictment against former mayor of Mabanza (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda) Ignace Bagilishema, but removed the proposed conspiracy charge. Trial Chamber One, presided by Norwegian judge Eric Mose also granted a prosecution request for protection of witnesses in the trial, which is due to open on October 27th.

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This means the identities of the witnesses from Rwanda will not be disclosed to the media or the public. On Wednesday the court ordered a separate trial for Bagilishema, who had previously been charged with seven other people. Two of them have been tried and sentenced, while the others are still on the run. "A charge of conspiracy to commit genocide was indeed contained in the existing indictment, dated 29th April, 1996, as Count One," said Norwegian judge Eric Mose, presiding Trial Chamber One. "However, only one of the the persons named in the existing amended indictment is charged with the accused as a co-conspirator in the proposed amended indictment, dated 2nd September, 1999. All the other named co-conspirators in the proposed amended indictment are new persons. "The court concluded that "the charge of conspiracy in the proposed amended indictment appears to be materially different from the one contained in the existing indictment", and therefore refused the prosecutor leave to include it. However, the court granted leave to proceed on all the remaining counts in the proposed amended indictment. This means Bagilishema is now charged on seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. He is due to appear in court on Saturday morning to plead guilty or not guilty to the new charges, which include "causing outrages upon the personal dignity of [Tutsi] women". Bagilishema was initially accused in connection with massacres of Tutsis in the town of Kibuye and the Bisesero region. The new indictment also charges him with massacres in Mabanza commune, of which he was mayor. JC/FH (BS§0917e)