Arusha, March 28, 2001(FH) - The 20th prosecution witness in the genocide trial of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza on Thursday testified out of court because of illness, prosecution and defence confirmed. Semanza’s trial has meanwhile been adjourned to April 9th before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The witness, dubbed "VV" to protect her identity, testified from hospital in the presence of prosecution, defence and a representative of the ICTR Registry. Her testimony was recorded for the benefit of the judges, who were not present. This case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of Jamaica and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. A medical report submitted to the court earlier this week indicated that VV was now recovering, although she was still weak. The judges ruled that the witness should testify out of court. Prior to adjournment, the Chamber granted a prosecution request to call three additional witnesses. These witnesses are expected to be heard on April 18th and 19th. Semanza is a former mayor of Bicumbi, central Rwanda. He is charged with 14 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including rape. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, he was no longer mayor of Bicumbi, but the prosecution says he was an influential figure. The presidential party MRND had chosen Semanza to represent it in the parliament that was to be set up under the 1993 Arusha peace accord. . SW/JC/FH (SE_0330e)