Arusha, October 30th (FH) - All three courtrooms were in use Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), thanks to the presence in Arusha of Appeals judges and the recent start of new trials. This is the first time that all three courtrooms have been working at once, although the third room has been ready for more than a year.

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The five appeals judges are hearing arguments for a review of the May 1999 judgement on genocide convicts Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana, while trials are continuing in the so-called media and Cyangugu cases. A status conference also took place Monday in preparation for the start of trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli. Thus all nine ICTR Trial judges were sitting, as well as the five Appeals judges who are normally based in The Hague, Netherlands. In late 1998, the UN Security Council approved a third courtroom and three more judges to help speed up procedures at the ICTR. The Tribunal now has 45 people in custody, of whom eight have been sentenced. Only one trial has been in progress for most of the last 12 months: that of former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema. It began in October 1999 and ended last month. Judges are currently deliberating on the case. Appeals hearingsProsecutors urged the Appeals Court on Monday afternoon to reject the arguments of former Rwandan prefect Clément Kayishema and businessman Obed Ruzindana in their bid to get their judgements overturned. In May 1999, the Trial Chamber found Kayishema guilty on four counts of genocide and Ruzindana on one. It sentenced Kayishema to life imprisonment and Ruzindana to 25 years, after a joint trial. Defence lawyers argue that the trial was unfair and that the court made errors of both fact and law which would justify overturning the judgement. However, prosecutors replied that most of the defence arguments were based on alleged errors of fact which would, at the Appeals stage, require the defence to prove that the Trial Chamber had reached "wholly unreasonable" conclusions. That, prosecutors said, the defence had not done, nor could it. With regard to objections on points of law, prosecutors referred the Appeals judges to parts of the judgement which they said showed the Trial Chamber had adequately assessed such things as the credibility of witnesses and the command responsibility of Kayishema. The Appeals Court is expected to continue hearings Tuesday in the cases of Kayishema and Ruzindana. On Wednesday and Thursday it will hear the appeal of another genocide convict, former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide in September 1998. The Appeals Court has so far confirmed the sentences of two ICTR convicts, former militia leader Omar Serushago and former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda. Media cross-questioningThe trial of three suspects linked to so-called hate media continued Monday with the cross-questioning of a first prosecution witness, Swiss lawyer and journalist Philippe Dahinden. The trial, which started October 23rd, groups former Radio Télévision des Mille Collines (RTLM) director Ferdinand Nahimana, former politician and an RTLM founder Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and former Kangura newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. The court began by saying it needed more time to make a decision on Thursday's motion from Barayagwiza's lawyers that they be allowed to withdraw from the case because they had previously been refused permission to leave the courtroom. Barayagwiza says he wants nothing to do with the trial, because he believes it will not be fair. He is boycotting the courtroom and had asked his lawyers to do the same. Ngeze's American lawyer John Floyd then continued his lengthy cross-questioning of the witness Dahinden. Speaking to Hirondelle afterwards, Floyd explained that: "I went over the words and tried to get over what they meant, because this is the media trial and it is about words. I believe that we are here because of a great misunderstanding. " Asked whether he, the first lawyer to question the first prosecution witness, would continue with this tactic, Floyd replied: "I will do what I have to do". He admitted that this would be lengthy. However, he said the process could have been shorter if the witness had been presented as an expert rather than a lay witness. Defence had argued that prosecution should indeed have presented him as an expert, but the court accepted prosecution arguments. Dahinden last week told the court how he had met Ferdinand Nahimana on several occasions, before and during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The witness paid various visits to Rwanda starting in 1991, for the International Commission of Jurists, press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH). He reported for Swiss television in Rwanda during the genocide. At one point Floyd asked the witness if he was a spy. "I think I have established that he was a spy for RSF," Floyd told Hirondelle afterwards. Meanwhile, Trial Chamber Three continued the trial of three genocide suspects accused of conspiring to eliminate the Tutsi population in the Cyangugu region of south-west Rwanda. They are : former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura. The trial, which started September 18th, proceeded with the cross-questioning of a ninth prosecution witness. JC/FH (JU%1030e)