Arusha, October 30th, 2000 (FH) - Lawyers for former Rwandan prefect Clément Kayishema and businessman Obed Ruzindana on Monday asked the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to overturn their clients' convictions on the grounds that their trial was unfair and the judgement full of legal and factual errors. French counsels André Ferran and Pascal Besnier took the stand for Kayishema and Ruzindana respectively, in hearings expected to last two days in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.

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The two Rwandans were convicted on May 21st, 1999 after a joint trial. Kayishema was found guilty on four counts of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ruzindana was found guilty on one count of genocide, and sentenced to 25 years. Both were convicted for their part in massacres of Tutsis in the Kibuye region of western Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Kayishema was prefect of Kibuye. However, his lawyer Ferran argued that the Trial Chamber had not taken proper account of the chaotic context that reined at the time and had "judged the prefect rather than the man Kayishema". He said it had not taken account of experts' testimonies that suggested Kayishema did not have command responsibility over the mayors of his prefecture and had neither the legal or practical means to requisition security forces. That being the case, Ferran argued, the Trial Chamber was wrong to hold Kayishema responsible for the acts of his subordinates or for not stopping the killings. Ferran said the prosecution in this case had brought no concrete proof that Kayishema had had genocidal intent nor that he had helped carry out the massacres in Kibuye. "I call on the prosecution to demonstrate its allegations not by deducing but by producing concrete proof," Ferran told the court. The onus was on the prosecution to prove its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, he said, but claimed there had been a "diabolic inversion of the burden of proof". Ruzindana's lawyer also argued that the Trial Chamber had made errors of fact and law which justified invalidation of the judgement. Besnier said the prosecution had failed to prove that Ruzindana had either the intent to commit genocide or the means to carry it out. Ruzindana, he told the Appeals judges, was "the most insignificant accused person in the custody of the ICTR or that the Tribunal is ever likely to arrest". Besnier said his client was "just a grocer" with neither the material ressources (weapons, logistics), nor the intellectual means (authority, influence over the population) to carry out a genocide. Besnier said the indictment was totally imprecise on dates and places, making an alibi defence impossible to construct. His client was often informed at the last minute of charges against him because, Besnier said, the prosecution had constructed its case "not before but during the trial". He claimed that none of the prosecution witnesses had known Ruzindana before the genocide, except for two who had personal reasons to testify against him, and that all the testimonies were therefore unreliable. Prosecutors are also appealing the Trial Chamber's decision. They are asking that both Kayishema and Ruzindana be found guilty on the counts where the Chamber declared them not-guilty, and that both men be given the maximum sentence of life. Kayishema was indicted on 24 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, while Ruzindana was indicted on six. The Court is expected to hear the prosecution appeal Tuesday. UN Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte of Switzerland is in Arusha for the Appeals Court hearings. JC/FH (KY%1030E )