Arusha, June 27th, 2000 (FH) - Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday granted former Rwandan Information Minister Eliezer Niyitigeka's request that his new initial appearance be postponed, because the prosecution had not met its deadline for submission of an amended indictment. Niyitigeka pleaded not-guilty to genocide charges on April 15th, 1999.

1 min 1Approximate reading time

However, the prosecution was granted leave to amend the indictment, with a view to joining his trial to that of seven other former politicians. The court said it would hear the prosecution motion for joinder of all eight accused on Wednesday and Thursday, but would not hear "the parts related to Niyitigeka". The other former ministers concerned are: Edouard Karemera (Interior), André Rwamakuba (Education), Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda (Culture and Higher Education), Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Justin Mugenzi (Commerce), Jérôme Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs) and Prosper Mugiraneza (Civil Sevice). All served in the interim government which presided over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Niyitigeka was due to plead Tuesday to his new indictment. However, his Irish defence counsel Sylvia Geraghty told the court he had had not time to prepare, as the officially approved version in French was not delivered to him until Monday afternoon. While the court granted her request for a postponement, it said the initial appearance should nevertheless take place "within the shortest possible time". Judges of Trial Chamber Two, presided by Judge Laity Kama of Senegal, rejected a second request from Niyitigeka, asking that proceedings be stayed pending an Appeals Court decision on an urgent preliminary motion. The Chamber found that allowing proceedings to continue "would in no way" prejudice the accused. JC/FH (PL%0627e)