Arusha, 26th January 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday ordered the prosecution to withdraw four witnesses from the list of those testifying against former mayor Ignace Bagilishema. In so doing, the first trial chamber granted a defence request which demanded that prosecution witnesses "T", "U", " "W" and "X" be barred from appearing.

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The judges ordered the prosecutor to "revise the list of witnesses with immediate effect, removing the four witnesses". They said the witnesses' written statements had not been submitted to the defence 60 days before the start of the trial, as required by ICTR rules. The prosecution had argued that it could introduce new witnesses, provided it was at least 60 days before their hearing. But Norwegian presiding judge Erik Mose said ICTR rules were very clear on the issue, and that the court had not been convinced by the prosecutor's arguments. Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza commune in Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. The trial began on September 27th, 1999. On Tuesday, the ICTR heard the 10th and 11th witnesses for the prosecution. Witnesses "Q" and "K" told the court that Bagilishema had conducted meetings where he incited the Hutu population to kill Tutsis and destroy their property. They stressed that the former mayor could have stopped the massacres of Tutsis if he had wanted to. CR/JC/FH (BS%0126e)