Arusha, March 15, 2002 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday sought to know from the lead prosecutor of the so-called Butare Trial if the prosecution was getting support from the Rwanda government to gain access to witnesses. Judge Winston Churchill Maqutu (Lesotho) of the ICTR's Trial Chamber Two asked prosecutor Silvana Arbia (Italy) what was causing a delay in getting witnesses, after the prosecution had presented a motion asking for more time to get witnesses to come and testify before the Tribunal.

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"I see some members of the public laughing, what is happening, what is the problem here? Is the Rwandan state backing you? It is the duty of the Rwandan state to see to it that the Tribunal gets cooperation," Judge Maqutu said adding that this was the central issue. Arbia was responding after strong objections to her motion by defence teams. Defence said that some witnesses had stated they would not come to Arusha to testify and therefore the court should reject the prosecution motion. The trial groups former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. The others are former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi of Ngoma and Elie Ndayambaje of Muganza. All have denied committing genocide crimes in Butare (south Rwanda) in 1994. Arbia appealed for more time saying that there had been some progress regarding four of the prosecution witnesses. But defence maintained that in addition to the four, there are seven other witnesses on the prosecution's list who will not come from Rwanda. They want all these witnesses, who are not available, to be struck off the list and for prosecution to continue their case with those available. "How long do you think the defence can tolerate this (waiting)?" Judge Maqutu asked the prosecution. The defence lawyer for Nsabimana, Cameroonian Josette Kadji, in her objection to the prosecutor's motion for delay said that some witnesses had made it clear they were not making the trip here and that some had "categorically refused to appear before the court. "This case is before Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. Judge Sekule said that the Chamber would deliberate on the motion and deliver its ruling in due course. The trial continues on Monday when the eighth prosecution witness called only "QBV", for the protection of his identity, continues with his testimony. SW/JA/FH (BT-0315e)