Arusha, April 22, 2004 (FH)- A senior trial attorney before the Appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda hearing the appeal of the former Rwandan minister for Information Eliezer Niyitegeka on Thursday defended the judgment and conviction of the accused. "The judgment is a very carefully rendered one taking into account all matters required," said Ken Flemming (Australia) in reference to the judgment by the trial chamber.

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Niyitegeka, 52, was convicted by the ICTR trial chamber on six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity on May 15, 2003 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Flemming argued that the prosecution case against Niyitegeka was "very strong and unassailable", contrary to the argument claims by the defence team that Niyitegeka was convicted on witness statements that were contradictory and "uncorroborated". He added that the trial chamber tested the evidence of the prosecution and defence witnesses and was entitled to rely on them. The prosecution called 13 witnesses while the defence called 11. Concerning the accusations by the defence that the involvement of a prosecutor Melinda Pollard (USA) who had been suspended twice by the New York bar, Flemming said despite her participation, Niyitegeka got a fair trial. "Pollard had issues discrediting her but that does not make her an incompetent lawyer", Flemming argued. Flemming maintained that Pollard was working under his supervision and was not a senior attorney in charge of prosecuting the trial. "Without Pollard, there is still a substantive case against the accused," Flemming declared. The case is before Judges Theodor Meron of USA presiding, Mohamed Shahabudddeen, (Guyana) Florence Mumba, (Zambia) Wolfgang Schomburg, (Germany) Inés Monica Weinberg de Roca (Argentina). The Appeals Chamber has so far confirmed seven convictions and one acquittal. PJ/JA/GF/FH (NI''0422e)