Arusha, September 10, 2003 (FH) - Trial Chamber One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday refused an application made by Major Aloys Ntabakuze's defence counsel to recall witnesses. Professor Peter Erlinder, Ntabakuze's lead counsel, had on Tuesday applied to the court to either postpone hearing witnesses testifying against his client or to recall them again in November when he would be available.

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He made the appeal during the testimony of a protected witness with the pseudonym “XAI” to protect his identity. XAI, the fifteenth witness called by the prosecution, was the only one to link his testimony to Maj. Ntabakuze. Prof. Erlinder had refused to cross-examine the witness arguing that he needed time to properly prepare the case as he had only been assigned the job of lead counsel on July, 2003. He threatened to resign if his request was not granted. Concerning his request for postponing the testimony of the other witnesses, he argued that he had to leave Arusha on Tuesday, and would not be back until November. In giving the reasons for the rejection of the motion, the presiding judge in the trial Erik Møse of Norway, said that André Tremblay, Erlinder's co-counsel, “had the knowledge, experience and was sufficiently prepared and in the position to go forward”. Tremblay has been on Ntabakuze's defence team ever since the trial began in April 2002. Ever since Clemente Monterosso resigned as lead counsel in august the same year, Tremblay has been the sole counsel. Aloys Ntabakuze, is the former commander of Kanombe Para-commando battalion in Kigali, and he is jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence 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. All four have pleaded not guilty to charges of, among others, genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. “I have been put in a difficult situation” declared André Tremblay on hearing the tribunal's decision. “I do not have written instructions from the lead counsel to cross-examine the witness”:Tremblay asked permission to consult and seek instructions from his client. When Ntabakuze was given the floor, he allowed Tremblay to cross-examination XAI. “Though I support the request to postpone the auditioning of the witnesses, it would be prejudicial to my interest not to cross-examine the witness”, he said adding that his decision “should not be seen as a disavowal” of his lead counsel. Judge Erik Møse is assisted in Chamber One by Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov of Russia and Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. The trial continues on Thursday with the auditioning of another witnessKN/CE/FH (ML'0910e)