Arusha, December 5th, 2000 (FH) û Former Rwandan mayor and genocide suspect Laurent Semanza returned before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday afternoon, ending a short boycott to protest a court decision, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. After an adjournment and some 40 minutes of discussion before the Trial Chamber, Semanz's lawyers were apparently satisfied by the court's clarification of a decision made Monday, and which Semanza said was an attack on the rights of the defence.

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The accused was then called by his lawyers and returned to court almost immediately. The trial continued in his presence, with the cross-examination of prosecution witness VP. Earlier Tuesday, Semanza's lawyers Charles Taku (Cameroon/USA) and Sadikou Alao of Benin had informed the court of the accused's decision to boycott the trial and end their mandate to represent him in court. This was in protest at a ruling Monday rejecting five written defence motions as "frivolous" and sanctioning the lawyers for "abuse of process". The court said that the matters raised could have been settled orally before the court. "According to this decision, no [written] motion will be admissible if it has not been granted prior approval by the Chamber,"Semanza wrote in his letter. "It is obvious that this decision constitutes a restriction on the defence. […] I therefore feel forced to stop appearing before the court or being represented there, unless and until the Chamber reverses its decision and leaves my defence team the freedom to choose by what means it will defend me. "Presiding Judge Yakov Ostrovsky responded firmly, ordering the Registry to inform the accused that he had a right to attend the trial but that it would continue in any case. The judge also warned Semanza'lawyers that they could be sanctioned if they refused to represent their client in court. Judge Ostrovsky granted a suspension of the court proceedings to allow the defence to consult their client. When the court reconvened, lead counsel Taku said the defence wished to raise several issues. First, he said, they requested a review of Monday's ruling end of the sanctions. "The order is too broad, your Lordships," Taku pleaded, "and it gave the impression that it would clearly tie the hands of the defence. ö He argued that defence had a statutory right to file written motions in certain cases and that the work that had been sanctioned was done "in good faith". "There is no question of the Tribunal going back on any ruling that it makes," Judge Lloyd George Williams of Jamaica responded. "If the situation arises and you feel you need to submit a written motion, that is your right. But the situation that had arisen involved a lot of little issues. That means Tribunal resources are taken up, time is taken up, money is taken up. We were saying you should have regard for this. But in no way can we deny your right to bring a motion. "Co-counsel Alao reinforced his colleague's plea against the sanctions, which consisted of an instruction to the Registry that fees and costs should not be paid for preparation of the motions: "You know," he said, "we are under constant psychological pressure […] We are regularly threatened by persons and institutions who say we are negating the genocide, that we are trying to get Semanza acquitted. Even our families are threatened. So when we see that each time we submit motions we are sanctioned by the court, we wonder whether the harrassment is not omnipresent". The court expressed concern, but refused to be swayed. Judge Williams asked whether the lawyer was accusing the Tribunal of harrassing him. Lead counsel Taku continued with a further request that all documents be supplied in French, as his client did not understand English. Presiding Judge Ostrovsky advised defence to be in contact with the Registry and Prosecution on this issue. He also asked, on behalf of the Chamber, that Court Management contact the defence to establish priorities for the translation of documents. Finally, in response to Semanza's dental complaints, Judge Ostrovsky ordered the Registry to make a medical appointment for the accused Wednesday morning, in such a way that it would not disrupt the trial. JC/PHD/FH (SE%1205f)