Arusha, June 17, 2002 (FH) - The trial of six people accused of genocide crimes in Butare province, southern Rwanda, was again delayed at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday, due to lack of prosecution witnesses. The trial, which was adjourned last week, was yet again adjourned Monday morning, when the prosecution informed the court that scheduled witnesses were not available before Wednesday.

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The case started on June13, 2001. The Butare case groups former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, and her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, former Butareprefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma, Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. The Butare trial has the largest number of people in a joint trial before the ICTR. The chief of the ICTR witness protection section, Pakistani, Saleem Vahidy, said that the expected witnesses could not travel from Kigali to Arusha following new measures introduced by the Rwandan immigration services. In addition to local administrative procedures before obtaining travel documents, the ICTR also needs to give notice to the immigration service so that the witnesses can travel, Vahidy explained. The ICTR official explained that they had learnt about the new requirement on Friday and that the notice had now been issued. He said hopefully the witnesses would travel on Tuesday. He added that it was not one hundred per cent certain, but estimated that the earliest they would be in court would be Wednesday. Canadian defence counsel Nicole Bergevin representing ex-minister Nyiramasuhuko stated that the attitude of the authorities in Kigali towards enabling witnesses to travel had been encouraged by the fact that the ICTR prosecutor has asked for some trials be held in Kigali. Bergevin said that holding some trials in Kigali would mean there would be no justice. Presiding Judge Tanzanian William Hussein Sekule stressed that the trial calls for the participation of a large number of people: six lead defence counsel,their co-counsel, their assistants, the prosecution, the judges and all the personnel involved in the case. He said that a standstill in proceedings would be very costly for everyone. The judge urged once again that the Rwandan authorities do all that is possible to facilitate the travel of witnesses to Arusha and to end the stagnation which is causing inconvenience to many people. This trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). BN/SW/FH (BT-0617e)