Arusha, August 21st, 2003 (FH) -Trial chamber three of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday granted the prosecuting attorneys permission to drop one prosecution witness. Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former mayor of Rusumo (Kibungo province, eastern Rwanda), is charged with five counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres and rape of Tutsis committed in his commune in the genocide of April 1994.

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Presiding Judge Andresia Vaz from Senegal said, "The prosecution application to withdraw witness TAF have been authorised". No reasons were given for the withdrawal of the witness. The court was also informed that the next witness only identified as TAE was unwell and would appear in court Friday morning. Prior to that the session which was mainly in closed session during the morning hours was dominated by a debate between the prosecuting attorney, Richard Karegesya of Uganda and Defense counsel Koueogua from Cameroon on whether to admit into records the two statements provided by witness TBK. During the debate, Mr. Karegesya told the court, "If the application by the prosecution to admit into records ( not as evidence) the statement which the witness gave to the prosecutors is denied then the witness would be called back tomorrow morning for re-examination. "Mr. Karegyesa argued that the document should have been tendered in front of the witness because the witness was the best person to clarify issues that were raised by the defense whom he said had re-opened the cross-examination. Mr. Kouengwa on the other hand did not agree with the admittance of the statement saying, "your honours I do not believe anyone else can tender regarding the state of events a document as evidence or as an item of procedure, the witness is not a judge of the documents to be tendered"He further added that," It is not a matter of good practice to call back a witness who had completed his examination in court"The trial was adjourned to Friday where a ruling on the decision of the trial chamber will be made. The trial is being heard by Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judge Andrésia Vaz from Senegal (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. SV/AT/FH(GA'0821E)