Arusha, November 3, 2003 (FH) – The trial of former four cabinet ministers in the 1994 interim Rwandan Government which was set to begin on Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has been put off to Thursday due to absence of the defence team of one of the accused. The case involves former cabinet ministers in the trial known as prosecutor versus Bizimungu and allies.

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The accused in the case are former minister of Health, Casimir Bizimungu, the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service. The trial could not go on as Mugiraneza's lawyers were not present. His co-counsel Christian Gauthier (Canada) will arrive in Arusha on Tuesday evening, the chamber was told. The lead counsel, Tom Moran (USA) was not expected to be in Arusha as he is still engaged in a criminal trial in Canada. Mugiraneza applied to have the trial adjourned till next Monday so as to give him adequate time to meet his co-counsel and discuss the case. The chamber however ruled that the trial should start on Thursday. The prosecution had earlier submitted that it be allowed to make its opening statement since the legal assistant of Mugarineza's defence team was present. The prosecution expect to call about sixty one witnesses. The suspects are charged with a total of ten counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity. They allegedly committed the crimes while serving in the interim government from April 9 to mid July 1994. The trial is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan)PJ/CE/FH (GV'1103e)