Arusha, August 20, 2002 (FH) - Defence counsel for former Rwandan information minister, Eliézer Niyitegeka, on Tuesday accused a bench of judges at the International Criminal Tribunal of creating an "impression" that they were on the side of the prosecutor. "The defence is concerned that […] questions your honours have been asking the witness have […] been positing the side of the prosecution", said Feargal Kavanagh, of Ireland.

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He made the comments after judges of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR asked a prosecution witness supplementary questions following his testimony. "We know that the judges are impartial", said Kavanagh before adding that the complaint was simply an "impression of our (his) client". Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said that judges had the right to ask questions. She added that Kavanagh should have complained at the time the questions were asked. Judge Erik Mose of Norway asked Kavanagh to explain the rules of the tribunal to his client to avoid "wrong impressions" being created. 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. The court also heard a prosecution witness named 'GGR' to protect his identity. Like most witnesses before him, GGR said he had spotted Niyitegeka leading a group of Hutu attackers on Tutsi refugees in the Bisesero hills, West Rwanda. He said the attack took place at a point called Kucyapa in May 1994. The attackers, said the witness, were chanting in Kinyarwanda, "tubatsembe tsembe tubatsembe tsembe" (Let us exterminate them, let us exterminate them). 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. GG/FH(NI-0820e)