Arusha, August 19, 2002 (FH) - Former Minister for Higher Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda's defence team on Monday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to drop charges of rape and conspiracy against their client. Lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea told ICTR's Trial Chamber Two that the prosecution had not provided enough evidence to sustain the two counts of conspiracy and rape and they should be dropped.

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"If he did indeed conspire with anyone who are those people," she asked. Kamuhanda was a former minister in the interim government. He is charged with nine counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, war crimes; andcrimes against humanity, including rape and murder. He allegedly committed these crimes in his native Gikomero commune (Kigali province, central Rwanda). Kamuhanda has denied all charges. Kamuhanda, 49, was appointed minister in the interim government in 25th May, 1994. Prior to this he was a civil servant, a director in the Ministry of Higher Education. The defence argued that even the prosecution witnesses expected to provide the core evidence to prove the conspiracy charge had failed to do so. "No reference is made of Kamuhanda," Conde said. On the issue of rape, Conde said that there was no evidence to show that Kamuhanda knew about it or that he had authority over those people who allegedly committed the offence. His defence will set a precedent by calling him as the first witness when it opens its case after the court has considered the motions. In the past, other defence teams have called the accused as the last witness. Prosecutor David Moore of Ireland maintained that the accused should face the two counts. Moore said that in the case of the rape count, even though there were no victims who actually testified there was evidence that young girls had been raped during attacks and that the former minister knew of these events. According to the prosecution, Kamuhanda personally led attacks such as the one on April 12th, in Gikomero where he arrived at the parish church and adjoining school with armed soldiers and Interahamwe (militia). "He directed the militia into the courtyard of the school compound and gave them the order to attack. The soldiers and Interahamwe attacked the refugees, several thousand persons were killed," reads his indictment. It further states that "during the attack on the school in Gikomero the militia also selected women from among the refugees, carried them away and raped them before killing them. " But defence says that Kahumanda was not in Gikomero on the said date. The trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. Kamuhanda's case started on April 17, 2001 but had to be restarted after the death of the late judge and ex-president of the ICTR Senegalese LaityKama. Laity Kama died in Nairobi on May 6, 2001, following illness. Kamuhanda's trial was restarted on September 3rd, 2001. The case adjourned on May 14th, after the testimony of twenty-eight prosecution witnesses as the Chamber is hearing two other cases alternately. The former minister's defence team anticipates about 30 witnesses. SW/FH (KH-0819e)