Arusha, October 28th, '99 (FH) - Motions on joining the genocide trials for four Rwandan ex-military officials were on Thursday postponed once again before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The four are Théoneste Bagosora, former advisor (chef de cabinet) at the Rwandan defence ministry, and three senior commanders in the former Rwandan army: Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi.

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The ICTR was due to hear motions from the defence arguing inadmissibility of the prosecutor's request for joinder. However, Kabiligi's Togolese defence lawyer, Jean Yaovi Degli, also filed on Wednesday an urgent motion seeking to have one of the judges disqualified. Proceedings were first postponed until later in the day because no English translation of the urgent motion was available. They resumed mid-afternoon with Degli's presentation of his argument. Degli argued that Judge William Sekule of Tanzania, scheduled to hear the joinder motion with judges Lloyd George Williams of Jamaica and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia, should be disqualified because he had been one of the judges authorizing amendment of Kabiligi's indictment in August. A decision of Augu, 13th granted the prosecution leave to amend Kabiligi's indictment, notably adding a charge of conspiracy to commit genocide. Similar amendments were also granted for the other three members of the "military group". Degli argued that Sekule's participation in that decision meant he could not be part of the Chamber hearing the current motions, because he would not be impartial. The defence lawyer said that such a situation would be breaking ICTR rules. The particular rule to which Degli was referring states that "A judge may not sit at a trial or appeal in any case in which he has a personal interest or concerning which he has or has had any association which might affect his impartiality. He shall in any such circumstance withdraw from that case". Judge Williams, sitting alone on the bench, said it would be impossible to rule on the motion by Friday and proposed Monday instead. When he heard that defence lawyers would have left Arusha, he postponed hearings of all the defence motions from the military group until the beginning of December. JC/JMG/FH (BG§1028e)