Arusha, June 22, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday granted a motion from alleged former militia leader Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, in which he said he had lost confidence in his lawyers and wanted them fired. The court found that the breakdown in communication and trust between the accused and his defence team, a situation that the Chamber said it had observed even in court, constituted exceptional circumstances.

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Trial Chamber Two directed the Tribunal's Registry to withdraw immediately the assignment of counsel René Saint-Leger (Haiti/Canada) and co-counsel James Michael Bailey of the US. The Chamber also ordered the Registry to provide Ntahobali with a list from which to choose other counsel. It said he should be appointed a duty counsel with immediate effect, pending the assignment of new lawyers. Ntahobali had asked that he be allowed to represent himself. The Chamber said it had not been proven that counsel had done anything to the prejudice of the accused, as he alleged. The judges said it seemed that the accused had either inadvertently or deliberately rendered their task difficult. They urged Ntahobali to endeavour in future to co-operate with the Registry and with replacement counsel, to ensure smooth proceedings. Ntahobali is co-accused with five others in the so-called Butare Trial, which began on June 12th. They are: his mother, former Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko; former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabinama and Alphonse Nteziryayo; and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR is composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Mantanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. SW/JC/FH (BT0622f)