Arusha, June 21, 2001 (FH) - Alleged former militia leader and genocide suspect Arsène Shalom Ntahobali on Thursday cross-examined the first prosecution witness in the so-called Butare Trial for over three hours at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ntahobali was allowed to ask supplementary questions after his lead defence lawyer René Saint-Leger (Haiti/Canada) completed his cross-examination of the witness, UN investigator Shukri Gandhi.

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When the lawyer completed cross-examination, the Chamber told Ntahobali that could ask questions as he had appealed earlier. Saint-Leger asked the court for a few minutes to consult with Ntahobali, as his defence did not know what questions he intended to ask. After a brisk exchange, the lawyer returned to his seat and Ntahobali started his cross-examination. Ntahobali has asked the court to have his assigned lawyers Saint-Leger and co-counsel James Michael Bailey of the US replaced. In a motion last week, he said he had no confidence in them. Ntahobali claimed he could not work with them and that they did not have his "trust and mandate". He asked that he be allowed to represent himself pending the assignment of new lawyers. This request was refused, and the Chamber has yet to make a decision on his motion. Ntahobali asked the witness questions on maps, sketches, photographs and videotapes of alleged crimes sites that Gandhi had submitted to the court. The accused maintained that there were discrepancies between some of the sketches and videotapes. Ntahobali is co-accused with 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. The hearing is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Mantanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. SW/JC/PHD/FH (BT0621E)