(2001) - Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam on Monday postponed hearings in the extradition case of former Rwandan army officer Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, for lack of defence witnesses. Ntuyahaga’s Tanzanian co-counsel Professor Jwan Mwaikusa asked presiding magistrate Michael Luguru to adjourn the hearing, saying the defence was still making efforts to fly in the remaining three defence witnesses from Europe.

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The case was set for mention on December 10th this year. Major Ntuyahaga is wanted by Kigali for his alleged role in the killings of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwingiliyimana and 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers on April 7th, 1994, at the start of the genocide. Speaking to Hirondelle news agency outside the court, Professor Mwaikusa said his lead counsel, Belgian Luc de Temmerman, is busy in Europe trying to raise funds to foot logistical expenses for the would-be witnesses. “Money is a problem, we failed to bring in witnesses from Europe,” Professor Mwaikusa complained. He said they needed around $12,000 to $15,000 for air tickets, accommodation and daily allowances for the witnesses. “We depend on charity to bring our witnesses,” he said, declining to mention how much they had collected so far. Last September, two defence witnesses testified for Major Ntuyahaga: Burundian Roman Catholic Priest Juvénal Bamboneyeho and Belgian Christian De Beule. Both expressed fears that Ntuyahaga would be killed if he weresent to Rwanda, and that he would not get a fair trial. Major Ntuyahaga was released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on March 18th, 1999, after prosecution asked to drop his indictment. However, he 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. The current hearings are to determine whether Ntuyahaga should be sent to Rwanda or not. NI/JC/DO/FH (NU1126e)