Arusha, September 16th, '99 (FH) - The prosecution on Thursday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for permission to amend the indictment against former mayor of Mabanza (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda) Ignace Bagilishema. Arguing for the prosecution, Charles Adeogun-Philips said the request was because of witness testimonies gathered in July.

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On Wednesday, the court granted authorization for the prosecution to try Bagilishema separately, whereas he was originally charged with seven other people. Two of them have already been tried and sentenced, while the others are still on the run. Bagilishema was arrested on February 20th in South Africa. Up to now he has been charged on the basis of an indictment confirmed in November 1995 and amended in April 1996. He is charged with thirteen counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Philips (Nigeria) told the court that the prosecution also intends to reduce the number of counts from thirteen to six by merging some and adding new ones. The new charges would include complicity in genocide and "causing outrages upon the personal dignity of [Tutsi] women". Bagilishema is accused in connection with massacres of Tutsis in the town of Kibuye and the Bisesero region. The new indictment would also charge him with massacres in Mabanza commune, of which he was mayor. Philips told the court that Bagilishema was implicated in massacres at roadblocks in his commune, at the commune office jailhouse, and in preparing mass graves where the bodies of victims were later buried. Philips said the prosecution planned to use recently gathered evidence to show that "the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was planned and the accused was part of that plan". Defence opposes amendmentBagilishema's French defence lawyer François Roux opposed the prosecution request, on the grounds that the amendments would constitute "a grave injustice". He also asked the court to throw out proposed charges relating to the acts of Bagilishema's subordinates, saying "it is out of the question that this Tribunal should charge someone on the basis of generalities and in the midst of confusion. "In reality, the prosecution has no evidence against Bagilishema himself. Instead it is trying to judge him as responsible for acts committed by others. It has nothing against Bagilishema, so it is trying to widen the case to other people. That's not my concept of justice. "Among the subordinates cited in the act are the mayor's assistants, the communal police and gendarmes posted in Mabanza commune during the genocide. The defence also asked the court to throw out the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide. This charge figures in the initial indictment, where Bagilishema was charged with others including former prefect of Kibuye Clément Kayishema. The charge was withdrawn against Kayishema, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 21st. "How can you try Bagilishema for conspiracy, while you did not retain that charge against Kayishema?" Roux asked the court. "If there is conspiracy, there must be more than one person. If you withdrew the conspiracy for one, you should do so for the other. "On Thursday, the ICTR also heard a prosecution request for protection of witnesses. Judges are now deliberating on both prosecution requests. AT/JC/FH (BS§0916e)