Arusha, November 6th, 2000 (FH) - The trial of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza resumed on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with a closed hearing of testimony from a second prosecution witness. The Chamber granted a prosecution request that witness "VAJ" be heard in camera because some of the questions could reveal the identity of protected witnesses.

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It rejected arguments by Semanza's defence counsel Charles Taku (USA) that the trial should be postponed pending an Appeals Court decision on an urgent motion. Semanza's trial started on October 16th this year, but was adjourned after two days during which the first prosecution witness, Canadian policeman Pierre Duclos, gave his testimony. The trial is alternating with the so-called Cyangugu trial before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three. The Cyangugu trial groups three suspects accused of genocide in the Cyangugu region of southwest Rwanda. The Chamber is composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky (Russia), Lloyd Williams (Jamaica) and Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia). Judge Williams is presiding in the Cyangugu trial and Judge Ostrovsky in the Semanza trial. Semanza, 46, was mayor of Bicumbi in Kigali rural prefecture, central Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. He is charged with 14 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape. He was arrested in Cameroon in March 1996 and made his initial appearance at the Tribunal in February 1998. SW/JC/FH (SE%1106e)