Dar es Salaam, September 17, 2001 (FH) - Two witnesses from Belgium and Burundi are to start testifying Tuesday against the extradition of former Rwandan army officer Major Bernard Ntuyahaga from Tanzania to Rwanda. The Rwandan government, which lodged the extradition request more than two years ago, wants Ntuyahaga for his alleged role in the murder of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and ten Belgian UN peacekeepers on April 7th, 1994, in Kigali.

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Ntuyahaga's Tanzanian co-counsel, Professor Jwan Mwaikusa, told the Resident Magistrate court in Dar es Salaam Monday that his team had only managed to bring two out of an expected 12 witnesses. He said most of them were no longer willing to come for security reasons, especially after last week's massive terrorist attacks in the United States. "However, I cannot proceed with the two witnesses today, Your Honour, because I did not have enough time to interview them,” Professor Mwaikusa told Principal Resident Magistrate Projestus Rugazia, and asked for a one-day adjournment. This was granted. Belgian lead counsel Luc De Temmerman assured the court that his team would bring another two witnesses for Ntuyahaga's defence in one month. “I am very unhappy that a lot of witnesses who received summons from this court did not respond,” lamented De Temmerman. Senior State Attorney, Ms Amma Munisi said she wished to register her dissatisfaction at continuing adjournment requests from the defence. Major Ntuyahaga was released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on technical grounds on March 18th, 1999, but was re-arrested by the Tanzanian authorities the same day, on immigration charges and for consideration of extradition requests. Both Belgium and Rwanda put in an extradition request. Tanzanian authorities rejected the Belgian one, saying bilateral accords provided for suspects to be extradited only to the country where their alleged crimes were committed. NI/JC/PHD/FH (NU0917E)