Arusha, October 17th, 2000 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal forRwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday adjourned the trial of former Rwandan mayorLaurent Semanza, only a day after it started. The parties agreed that itwould resume on November 6th.

1 min 26Approximate reading time

The adjournment comes after the court heard opening statements from theprosecution and one prosecution witness. Trial Chamber Three, which istrying the case, has also just opened the trial of three suspects accused ofgenocide in the Cyangugu region of southwest Rwanda. Semanza, 46, was mayor of Bicumbi in Kigali rural prefecture, centralRwanda, during the 1994 genocide. He is charged with 14 counts of genocide,war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape. On Monday and Tuesday, the court heard testimony from Canadian policemanPierre Duclos, who was an investigator for the prosecution on the Semanzacase. But on Tuesday, Semanza’s co-counsel Sadikou Alao of Benin, submittedan urgent motion contesting Duclos’s evidence on the basis that it wasmanipulated. Duclos produced three videocassettes, which he admitted to editing at theprosecution’s request “so as to omit parts that would reveal the identity ofwitnesses”, he told the court. He also submitted a fourth videocassette,which he said he had not produced himself but which he had copied for theICTR. Semanza’s defence lawyer, in an urgent request submitted orally, said thetapes could not be used as evidence. “We ask that the original, uneditedtapes be given to you, “ Alao told the court, “and also the original of thefourth tape, said not to be the work of the witness, so that you can see theextent of manipulation. As the manipulated tapes cannot be used as evidence,they should be withdrawn. ”The lawyer urged the judges to examine very carefully the “moral uprightnessof the witness”. He claimed there had been cases at the ICTR where evidencehad been falsified, but gave no details. Some ICTR defence lawyers sayDuclos was cited in the so-called “Matticks affair” in Canada, where therewere allegations of evidence being manipulated. Duclos was a security guard at the safe house where former Rwandan PrimeMinister Jean Kambanda was detained before he pleaded guilty to genocide andcrimes against humanity. The ICTR sentenced Kambanda to life imprisonment,but he has now asked the Appeals Court to change his plea to not-guilty. TheAppeals Court is due to hand down its decision on Thursday, October 19th. SW/AT/JC/FH (SE%1017e)