Arusha, October 31st, 2002 (FH) - The genocide trial of former Rwandan minister of information, Elièzer Niyitegeka, was on Wednesday adjourned until November 11th after the defence failed to raise witnesses. The trial was initially scheduled to run up to Friday.

1 min 23Approximate reading time

The defence withdrew a witness that was due to testify saying that "after speaking to him", the defence had concluded that his testimony was of minimal importance. Niyitegeka,50, is on trial for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with killings in the Bisesero hills in the West Rwanda region of Kibuye. He was minister of information in the "government of salvation" that reigned over the period of the genocide. An estimated One million ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in the 1994 genocide according to an official census by the government of Rwanda. Prior to adjourning, co-counsel for Niyitegeka Feargal Kavanagh of Ireland told the court that a witness that was due to testify had refused to after "learning that the prosecution made dangerous allegations against witnesses. "He is afraid that allegations will be made that will tarnish his name at home and endanger his security", said Kavanagh. The defence last week objected to prosecution suggestions that a defence witness had, unlike his version of events, been detained in Rwanda on charges of genocide. Defence said that the prosecution had failed to prove the "serious" allegation and had consequently threatened the witness and future defence witnesses who would hear of the incident. The chief of the witnesses and victims support section in charge of defence witnesses, Roland Amoussouga, told the court that after investigating the case of the witness that had declined to testify, his section discovered that the witness had acquired information about the "prosecution threats" "not from any other source but from members of the defence team themselves. " The court didn't comment on the matter. Seven out of some twenty witnesses have testified for the defence. The Niyitegeka trial is being held before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR,comprising Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. Judge Pillay is currently away presenting the ICTR annual report at the UN. GG/FH (NI-1031e)