Arusha, April 21, 2004 (FH)- A defence attorney on Wednesday told the Appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda hearing the appeal of the former Rwandan minister for Information Eliezier Niyitegeka that the accused was convicted on "mere allegations". Niyitegeka's co-counsel Feargal Kavanag stated before the chamber that "it is too dangerous to convict a person on mere allegations.

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" Kavanag said Niyitegeka had been convicted for the murders of three Tutsis during the genocide yet only one witness said the victims existed . There was no corroboration of this evidence, he argued. Niyitegeka, 52, was convicted by ICTR trial chamber on six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity on May 15th last year and sentenced to life imprisonment. Kavanag further submitted that the alleged murders were not in the indictment but were only brought up during the trial by the witness. The trial chamber in its judgment found Niyitegeka was personally responsible for murder, including that of a Tutsi called Kabana who was killed, "decapitated and then castrated", and that of a Tutsi woman. He added that the trial chamber made an error by dismissing the alibi of Niyitegeka instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt. The defence attorney also discredited the evidence of three witnesses handled by a former prosecutor in the case Melinda Pollard (USA) as unreliable. One of the witnesses GK was an accomplice in the genocide crimes allegedly committed by Niyitegeka and should have also been prosecuted, he claimed. 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. The prosecutor Ken Flemming of Australia will present arguments on Thursday. PJ/JA/GF/FH (NI''0421F)