Arusha, December 4, 2001 (FH) - The genocide trial of four former Rwandan military leaders, including Théoneste Bagosora, is scheduled to start on April 2nd, 2002, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bagosora was advisor (chef de cabinet) at the Rwandan defence ministry in 1994.

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Prosecution maintains that he assumed "de facto" control of military and political affairs in Rwanda after the April 6th downing of the president's 'plane that sparked the genocide. He was arrested in Cameroon on March 9th, 1996. Bagosora is to be tried with three senior commanders in the former Rwandan army: Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi. All three are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The long awaited case is set to start before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Pre-trial motionsOn Monday and part of Tuesday, the court heard pending motions by the defence teams of the accused and by the prosecution. Hearings took place mostly behind closed doors. Bagosora is represented Raphael Constant of Martinique/France, Nsengiyumva by Kenyans Kennedy Ogetto and Otachi Bw'Omanwa, Ntabakuze by Italian Clemente Monterosso and Kabiligi by Jean Degli of Togo/France. On Tuesday Degli presented the last motion, on behalf of the defence teams. The teams want prosecution to forward all statements by potential prosecution witnesses "ZB" and "ZC". Degli said that the statements of the two potential witnesses ZB and ZC formed an important part of the accusations levelled against all the four suspects. "If the accused do not have these statements, I do not know how we are expected to adequately prepare our defence," he argued. But prosecutor Chile Eboe Osuji (Canada/Nigeria) argued that the motion was premature because the prosecution was still within the time limit required to make disclosures to the defence. According to ICTR Rules, he stressed, the Prosecutor must disclose to the defence "no later than 60 days before the date set for trial, copies of the statements of all witnesses whom the Prosecutor intends to call to testify at trial". The defence maintained that they had only been given extracts of the witnesses' statements, which they said was inadequate. The court will deliberate before handing down a decision. SW/JC/DO/FH (ML1204e)