Arusha, April 7, 2004 (FH) – Four of the six accused persons in the ‘'Butare trial” currently heard at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday refused to observe one minute of silence in court in memory of the victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Nicole Bergevin, lead counsel for Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former minister for Family and Women Affaires made a statement in court that her client would not take part in the observance of one minute of silence as required by the United Nations.

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The UN has earmarked April 7 as the UN day for remembering the victims of the Rwandan genocide. She said her client and other accused in this case pleaded not guilty for genocide and the chamber had not yet handed down the judgment on the accusation leveled against her client. “I objected any move to observe the minute of silence in the court of justice,” she said supporting the idea of doing the same outside the chambers. Bergevin was supported by three other defense team members. They include the lead counsel for Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, Duncan Mwanyumba, Claude Desrochers co-counsel for Elie Ndayambaje, former mayor of Muganza commune and Frederic Pacere, lead counsel for the accused Nteziryayo. Michel Marchand, lead counsel for Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Ngoma commune and Charles Tchakoute co-counsel for Sylvain Nsabimana another former Butare prefect did not support the move. Following the observation Judge Sekule, the presiding judge in this case, allowed counsel Marchand to continue with the cross examination of witness QAH without making any ruling on the discussion. The ICTR will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the genocide in the evening, when the minute of silence will be observed, along with the laying of a commemoration wreath and the unveiling of a symbolic memorial block. NI/CE/FH(RW''0407e)