Arusha, June 10, 2002 (FH) - Eight prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are stranded in the Rwandan capital, Kigali due to new travel procedures imposed by the government, Salim Vahidy, the chief of the ICTR witnesses and victims support section told court on Monday. "A last minute change of existing procedures put us in a difficult position to complete the required new procedures", said Vahidy.

1 min 10Approximate reading time

He added that the situation might be resolved in about three days. Defence counsels in the 'Butare trial' all strongly condemned the Rwandan government for "interfering and hampering trials". "This tribunal, if it has to be an independent tribunal shouldn't be at the mercy of Rwanda", said defence counsel for former Rwandan minister of Women's Development and Family Welfare Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Nicole Bergevin of Canada. She added that such delays were prejudicial to her client who has been in detention for about five years. The chamber "argue(d) the Rwandan government to take all possible urgent action to facilitate arrival of the witnesses to the tribunal to come and testify". Trial Chamber Two adjourned to Tuesday afternoon when it will receive information from the registry on developments regarding the witnesses. The Butare trial groups six persons accused of organising and perpetrating killings in the Rwandan province of Butare during the 1994 genocide. They are former Minister of Women's Development and Family Welfare, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son and alleged former militia leader Arsène Ntahobali, former mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje and two former prefects of Butare Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR is composed of judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar. Some of the eight witnesses were due to testify in other trials before the ICTR. GG/FH(BU-0610e)