Arusha, November 16th, '99 (FH) - A pre-trial hearing in the case of former Rwandan minister Edouard Karemera was on Tuesday postponed for 24 hours before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), following an urgent motion seeking to disqualify two judges. Karemera, in an urgent last minute motion, is seeking to have Senegalese judge Laity Kama (presiding) and Tanzanian judge William Sekule replaced.

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He is contesting Kama's competence to hear his pre-trial defence motions on grounds that the judge signed orders for his arrest and preventive detention. Kama also signed an order for Karemera's preventive detention period to be extended. As for Sekule, Karemera says he should be disqualified because the Tanzanian judge was on the bench for the accused's initial appearance. Karemera was Interior Minister in the Rwandan interim government that presided over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, and is expected to be tried along with other former politicians. The court was originally due to hear a motion seeking Karemera's immediate release and annulment of his indictment, on grounds that his rights were violated. This motion cites his conditions of detention, including the denial of his right to the assistance of a defence counsel. Since his transfer to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha in July 1998, Karemera has been assigned four different lawyers. All have been dismissed or resigned by mutual consent. Karemera on Tuesday represented himself in court. The defendant has requested a Canadian lawyer, Antoine Léger, but the request has been rejected by the ICTR Registry. Trial Chamber Two ordered the Registry to settle this problem "in the shortest possible time" by allowing Karemera to choose from three lawyers, including Léger. The court is due to render its decision on Wednesday regarding Karemera's motion to disqualify the two judges. (KA§1116e)