Arusha, December 11, 2003 (FH) - The trial of four former Rwandan top officials facing genocide and other related charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was adjourned until January 19, 2004. The trial started on November 27 this year and it groups together three top leaders of the former ruling party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), and a former minister in the interim government.

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The accused are; the former president of MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, his vice president Edouard Karemera, the Secretary general of MRND, Joseph Nzirorera as well as Andre Rwamakuba, former minister of primary and secondary education. Karemera was also a minister of Interior in 1994 while Nzirorera was the Speaker of the Transitional National Assembly. Ngirumpatse had also been a minister of Justice in 1991. So far the prosecution has already called eight witnesses, most of whom incriminated Joseph Nzirorera and Andre Rwamakuba. Nzirorera is accused of organization massacres in his hometown of Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) while Rwamakuba is accused of massacres carried out in the town of Butare (south). During his opening statement, the prosecutor called the four "pillars of the interim government whose aim was to carry out the genocide. " All have pleaded not guilty. The defence teams on the other hand argue that they did not have the means and that they tried their level best to stop the massacres, giving an example of their asking for help from the international community. Rwamakuba has boycotted the trial ever since it began, saying that his case file had been "manipulated by the prosecutor". The trial, commonly known as "Government I" is taking place in Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed ofJudge Andresia Vaz from Senegal, (presiding) Flavia Lattanzi from Italy and Florence Rita Arrey from Cameroon. KN/AT/FH (GVI'1211e)