Arusha, October 18th, '99 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday rejected a motion calling for the withdrawal of two judges from the case of former foreign ministry advisor Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. Barayagwiza's Kenyan lawyer, Justry Patrice Lumumba Nyaberi had called in an urgent motion for South African judge Nevanethem Pillay and Senegalese judge Laity Kama to be disqualified.

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Nyaberi said these two judges had, in the trial of former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, "expressed themselves on the rôle of RTLM [Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines) and the CDR [extremist Hutu party] in the 1994 massacres" and therefore "could not be neutral with regard to Barayagwiza". Barayagwiza is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. During the genocide, he was president of the anti-Tutsi CDR in the Gisenyi region of northwest Rwanda and a member of the steering committee of the extremist RTLM radio. "Certain conclusions were drawn in the Akayesu case, and they would deprive my client of the right to a fair trial," Nyamberi argued. "I am not questioning the integrity of the judges concerned, but they are human beings and they could be attempted to apply elements from the Akayesu case to ours. "Akeyesu, former mayor of Taba (Gitarama prefecture, central Rwanda), was sentenced to life imprisonment in October 1998. He is appealing his sentence. Trial Chamber One, composed of judges Pillay, Eric Mose (Norway) and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardena (Sri Lanka) said that Judge Kama was no longer involved in the case, as he was now attached to Trial Chamber Two. With regard to Pillay, it ruled that the motion was not founded in law. In rejecting the motion, the court noted that the law on which the defence based its argument was specific to trials and appeal hearings. Consequently, the defence's argument had no bearing on pre-trial proceedings. The court also rejected a second defence motion seeking to postpone all future proceedings pending a decision on an appeal seeking Barayagwiza's release on grounds that he was illegally arrested and detained in Cameroon in 1997. The appeal was filed last year. In the ruling, presiding Judge Pillay noted that if the ruling were positive, the accused would not have suffered any loss. However, if the stay were granted and the appeal rejected, his trial would have been delayed. "We are in no position to anticipate what the Appeals Chamber may rule,'' Pillay said. `'It may not grant you the ultimate redress you seek. In granting a stay, it is the accused who suffers prejudice. "The court also heard a prosecutor's motion for protection of witnesses in the Barayagwiza case. It is to deliver a decision at a later date. Barayagwiza was arrested in March 1996 in Cameroon and transferred to Arusha in November 1997. CR/AT/JC (BR§1018e)