Arusha, August 14, 2002 (FH) - Former Minister for Higher Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda is expected to testify in his own defence when the hearing of his trial resumes before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Monday, August 19th. It will be the first time at the Tribunal, that a defence team is having the accused as its first witness.

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In other cases so far, defence teams have applied a strategy where the accused testifies as the last witness. "We are ready to start and we will start with the accused," Kamuhanda's lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea told the independent news agency Hirondelle. Conde said the defence is ready to open its case when proceedings resume. Conde said she had eleven witnesses ready, so far. Kamuhanda is charged with nine counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and murder. These crimes were allegedly committed in his native Gikomero commune (Kigali province, central Rwanda). He has denied all charges. He was minister of higher education from May 25th, 1994. He was arrested in France in 1999 and transferred to Arusha in 2000. His case started on April 17, 2001 but had to be restarted on September 3rd, 2001 after the death of the late judge and ex-president of the ICTR Senegalese Laity Kama. Laity Kama died in Nairobi on May 6, 2001, following illness. The prosecution maintains that Kamuhanda participated in massacres, which took place in Gikomero commune on April 12th, 1994. But defence says that Kahumanda was not in Gikomero on the said date. Kamuhanda's trial was adjourned on May 14th, after the testimony of twenty-eight prosecution witnesses. The former minister's defence team anticipates about 30 witnesses. 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 Mantanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. This Chamber is also hearing alternately, the trial of former mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri province, north west Rwanda) Juvénal Kajelijeli and that of six persons accused of crimes in Butare (south of Rwanda). SW/DO/FH (KH-0815e)