Arusha, February 26, 2003 (FH) - Trial Chamber One at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will be hearing the closing arguments in the trial of Eliézer Niyitegeka, a former minister of information, February 27 and 28, 2003. Niyitegeka is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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Eliézer Niyitegeka, 50, has pleaded not guilty for the massacres of Tutsis in Bisesero, Kibuye province, in the western part of Rwanda. The trial began on June 17, 2002 and is being heard by Trial Chamber One presided over by the South African Navanethem Pillay, assisted by Erik Møse of Norway and Andrésie Vaz of Senegal. The prosecution called twelve witnesses while the defence had eleven. The defence team of the former minister is made up of Sylvie Geraghty and Feargal Kavanag both from Ireland. The Australian Kenneth Fleming and Melinda Pollard from the USA represented the prosecution in one of the fastest trials ever conducted by the tribunal. Eliézer Niyitegeka was arrested in Kenya on February 9, 1999. His trial is the fourth involving Kibuye province. It comes closely after that of pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gérard Ntakirutimana. The others were the joint trial of the former prefect of Kibuye, Clément Kayishema and businessman Obed Ruzindana, that of the former director of Gisovu tea factory, Alfred Musema, and that of Ignace Bagilishema, the former mayor of Mabanza. Apart from Bagilishema who was acquitted, the others received sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison. Others from Kibuye awaiting trial are former minister of Finance, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, former counsellers Vincent Rutaganira and Mika Muhimana. Three other suspects from Kibuye, former mayors Aloys Ndimbati and Charles Sikubwabo, and a restaurant operator, known only as Ryandikayo are still at large, and sought by the ICTR. KN/CE/FH(NI'0226e)