Arusha, October 3, 2003 (FH) – The trial of four senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) accused of genocide and war crimes, was on Friday adjourned to November 3 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). According to the tribunal's provisional judicial calendar, the November session will last until December 17 just before the end-of-year judicial recess.

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The trial was adjourned after the 20th prosecution witness, code-named “DP” to hide his identity, had testified. Most of DP's testimony implicated the former commander of the Kanombe para-commando battalion in Kigali, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, whom he accused of launching an appeal to kill Tutsis in April 1994. The defence counsel for the accused dismissed the allegations as mere speculation. Ntabakuze is being jointly tried in the so-called “Military I” with the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence and who is also considered to me the “mastermind” of the genocide, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. The so-called “Military I” trial opened on February 2, 2002 and is considered as one of the most important the ICTR has tried so far. The four officers were indicted for having planned and put into action the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that cost the lives of about one million people. On many occasions, members of the defence teams condemned the prosecution for “frequently” changing the order of appearance of witnesses, thereby disrupting their work. They equally denounced “the introduction of new evidence” in the course of the trial. After hearing DP's testimony, the chamber together with both parties went into closed a session to plan for the next session. Sources within the office of the prosecution revealed that the prosecutor has lined up 25 witnesses for that period. Bagosora, 61, was arrested in Cameroon on March 9, 1996 and transferred to Arusha January 27, 1997. He is defended by Raphael Constant from Martinique and Paul Skolnik from Canada. Nsengiyuva, 52, was also arrested in Cameroon about two weeks after the arrest of Bagosora with whom he came to Arusha. He is defended by two Kenyans; Kennedy Ogetto and Ottachi Bw'Omanwa. 48 year-old Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi, 51, were both arrested in Kenya on July 18, 1997. Kabiligi is represented by the Franco-Togolese lawyer, Jean Yaovi Degli who is assisted by David Sperry from the United Kingdom. Ntabakuze's defence team is made up of an American, Professor Peter Erlinder and a Canadian, André Tremblay. The prosecution team in this case is led by Barbara Mulvaney from the USA. She estimates that she will wind up her case in June 2004. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), assisted by judges Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1003e)