Arusha, June 6, 2003 (FH) - The trial of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army resumes Monday with a status conference in a reconstituted chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The Trial dubbed”Military I” that was being conducted in Trial Chamber Three, has been reassigned to the newly recomposed Chamber One composed of Judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov (Russia) and Jai Ram Reddy (Fiji).

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Egorov and Reddy are part of the three new judges elected to the ICTR who were sworn in May 26, 2003. The trial began April 2, 2002 in Chamber Three that was presided over by Lloyd George Williams of Saint Kitts and Nevis, assisted by Andrésia Vaz and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia before it was reassigned to Chamber One. Judge Williams announced May 21, 2003 that he was withdrawing from the case for “personal reasons”, but would nevertheless continue serving as a judge of the ICTR. Judge Dolenc's mandate was not renewed by the UN Security Council. According to official ICTR information, all parties concerned in the trial will have a status conference to discuss the way forward for the trial which was adjourned after the appearance of only two witnesses December 6th. 2002. The conference will be held in camera. According to article 15 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence that were amended during the recent plenary session that took place from May 26 27, 2003, a judge can be replaced in the middle of a trial without affecting the process to continue. The rules though make no provision in case a chamber is wholly overhauled. It remains to be seen whether the military trial will resume from where it left of or whether it will restart from scratch. The trial is one of the most important that the ICTR has tried so far. Two members of the defence team revealed to Hirondelle news agency that they were in favour of a continuation of the trial for the sake of saving the tribunal's time. “Personally, I see no reasons why the trial can not continue, but now there are three new judges, It is up to the parties concerned to review the matter carefully”, declared the Franco Togolese lawyer, Jean Degli. When the trial resumes, the prosecution intends to call Georges Ruggiu, a Belgian journalist of Italian descent. The former presenter on Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) was condemned by the ICTR June, 1st, 2000 and sentenced to 12 years in jail for incitement to commit genocide. He has already testified in the “media” trial. In the “military I” trial, the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, is being jointly tried with the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lt. Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of the Paracommando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. Bagosora, referred to by the prosecution as the brain behind the genocide, is defended by The FrancoMartinique Raphaël Constant and Paul Skolnik from Canada. Kabiligi is represented by Jean Degli and Sylvia Olympio. Both are from Togo. Nsengiyumva is being represented by two Kenyans, Kennedy Ogetto and Otachi Bw'Omwana, while Ntabakuze was until the last session being defended by one lawyer, André Tremblay after Clemente Monterosso withdrew from the case last August citing “irreconcilable differences” with his client. Both the lawyers are Canadians. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0606e)