Arusha, October 6th, '99 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) late Tuesday ordered a joint trial for six Rwandan genocide suspects known as the "Butare group". Announcing the news on Wednesday, ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu told reporters that "this decision could have important implications.

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As you know, other joinder motions are to be decided, especially for the military group. The Prosecutor, as you also know, aims through the strategy of joinder to show that the genocide was a massive conspiracy between senior officials in power at the time". Trial Chamber Two, presided by South African judge Nevanethem Pillay, was responding to a request for joinder in the cases of six people accused of planning and implementing attacks on ethnic Tutsis in the Butare region of southern Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. They are former Minister of Women's Development and Family Welfare Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son and former militia leader Arsène Ntahobali, former mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje and two former prefects of Butare Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. In its motion for joinder, the prosecution said it had evidence that the six were involved in a conspiracy and were "involved in a common transaction". However, defence counsels argued that there was no case for joinder, and that it would in any case go against the rights of the accused. They said there was nothing to prove conspiracy between their clients. "In the opinion of the Trial Chamber [. . . ], there is sufficient showing of 'same transaction'," says the decision. "Therefore, it is the view of the Trial Chamber that there exists both factual and legal evidence for the holding of a joint trial". The court also says "the Chamber holds that a joint trial is proper in the case at bar. It is in the interest of justice that the same verdict should be rendered against all the accused involved in the alleged criminal acts arising from the same transaction or series of transactions. "This is the first in a series of expected decisions on joining trials of certain accused. In August, the prosecution filed a motion to join the trials of four accused known as the "Cyangugu group". The four, accused of conspiring to commit genocide in the Cyangugu region of southwest Rwanda, include former Minister for Transport and Communications André Ntagerura. On October 28th, the prosecution is expected to present a request for joinder of the trials of four former military officials, whose indictments were amended in August. They include former defence ministry advisor Théoneste Bagosora, who is thought to have been one of the main architects of the genocide. According to the ICTR's judicial calendar, the prosecution is due to present on October 19th and 20th requests to amend the indictments against three genocide suspects linked to the media. They are: Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, former foreign ministry advisor and a founder of the hate radio Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of RTLM; and Hassan Ngeze, former chief editor of the extremist newspaper Kangura. A fourth suspect, the Italo-Belgian RTLM presenter Georges Ruggiu, was expected to be part of this trial. His name does not appear on the judicial calendar. JC/FH (BT§1006e)