Arusha, November 29, 2001 (FH) - Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have rejected a prosecution motion for judicial notice in the genocide trial of Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his doctor son Gerald Ntakirutimana. Prosecution had applied for judicial notice on 43 "adjudicated facts" regarding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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The prosecution largely referred to previous judgements of the ICTR as support for its motion. The defence argued that: "Familiarity acquired in prior cases is a dangerous source of judicial economy if the Trial Chamber remains influenced by them". Elizaphan Ntakirutimana is being jointly tried with his son Gerald. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Mugonero in Kibuye. Gerald was a medical doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The two have pleaded not guilty to five counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In rejecting the motion, Trial Chamber One said that it would "avoid taking judicial notice of facts that are subject to reasonable dispute". It also ruled that the case law supporting the Prosecutor's arguments was weak. "The Chamber prefers in the circumstances of the present case to hear evidence and arguments on the issue, rather than take judicial notice,"reads the decision. Prosecution and defence agreed on matters regarding treaties signed by Rwanda prior to the 1994 genocide, Rwandan administrative structures and the personal history of the two accused. The Chamber ruled that since the two parties agreed on those matters, there was no need to take judicial notice of them. Examples of contested points were: that there was in existence in Rwanda between April, 6th and July 17th, 1994 a genocidal plan to exterminate the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda; and that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 peopledied in Rwanda as a result of the widespread violence. Defence had argued that the prosecution sought to have "virtually every fact essential to convict, except individual participation, established by judicial notice". The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. GG/JC/DO/FH (NK1129e)