Arusha, October 22, 2003 (FH) – The defence team of genocide suspect and former mayor of Rusumo commune Sylvestre Gacumbitsi will bring its last six witnesses to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in November. The trial was adjourned on Tuesday to November after hearing the eighteenth witness.

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The remaining witnesses include two factual witnesses who until Tuesday had not received their travelling documents to Arusha because they do not have national Identity Cards in Rwanda. The defence announced on Monday that it initially contacted them while they were still at a refugee camp in Tanzania. The witnesses were however, voluntarily repatriated, causing a communication gap between them and the defense. Three expert witnesses will testify after the factual witnesses. They include a former Rwandan Minister of Information from 1992 to 1993, Mr. Pascal Ndengejeho, who currently lives in exile in Namibia. Two French specialists in post-mortem will then testify. As it is common at the ICTR, Gacumbitsi will testify last on his own behalf. The trial facing this genocide suspect is the fastest trial to be heard at the tribunal. It started on July 28, 2003 and by August, 28th, 15 prosecution witnesses had testified. The defence presented its witnesses from the 6th of October and by the 21st, 18 witnesses had testified. The former mayor is charged with five counts, which include genocide, or in the alternative complicity in genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity in relation with massacres of Tutsis perpetrated in several locations in his commune during the 1994 genocide. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three, which is presided over by Senegalese judge and ICTR vice-president Andresia Vaz, assisted by judges Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji and Serguei Aleckseivich Egorov from Russia. SV/CE/FH (GA1022e)