Arusha, February 26, 2004 (FH) - The lead defence counsel for the former commander of the Kanombe Para-military battalion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, on Wednesday requested the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to exclude the evidence of a prosecution witness who had provided new information for the second time in the Military I trial. The witness code-named DBQ to conceal his identity testified before the tribunal on the 26th, 29th and 30th of September 2003, when he gave new information.

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The chamber decided that he be called back to testify after the defence was given time to investigate on the new information provided. Last week the co-counsel for Ntabakuze, Andre Tremblay (Canada) requested the chamber to delay further the testimony of DBQ to allow the defence more time for investigations. The prosecutor Barbara Mulvaney (USA) said that the witness was already on his way to Arusha meaning that he would testify before the defence teams could complete their investigations. When the witness took the stand on Wednesday, defence counsels hesitated as to whether they would cross-examine him or not . In the afternoon, they agreed that they would cross-examine DBQ. Then, the prosecutor revealed that the witness would give new information again, on rape allegations concerning Ntabakuze. This new information was given in a statement taken by one of the prosecutors on 4th September 2003, three weeks before DBQ last testified. However, the information was not revealed to the court when the witness testified last. Professor Erlinder requested the chamber to exclude the information which alleged that Ntabakuze was involved in rape. “I would appreciate if the evidence be excluded because the prosecutor interviewed the witness but failed to disclose the information in time to the court,” he said. In most countries, once a case is in progress at court, new statements cannot be introduced and the initial statements cannot be amended. At the tribunal however, new statements can be introduced and produced when the prosecutor finds new information helpful to the trial even if it is going on. “We (defence counsels) are happy that the prosecutor has not hidden this information from us but late disclosures mean we should be given more time to carry out investigations”. Ntabakuze's counsel added that he was having problems conducting the investigations. The chamber indicated that they may give its decision on the defence's request on Thursday. DBQ was cross-examined by the lead defense counsel for Kabiligi, Mr. Jean Yeovi Degli (Togo) regarding the presence of the former head of operations in the former Rwandan army, Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi in a massacre site. ”I put it to you witness that General Kabiligi was never there and you never saw him and that those massacres you said occurred never existed,” Degli told the witness. “What is your basis for saying that? I told you I have come here to testify, to tell the court what I saw,” DBQ answered. Ntabakuze and Kabiligi are jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora,,and the former military commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. They are mostly charged with Conspiracy to Commit Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. All have pleaded not guilty. The Military I trial is before trial Chamber One of the ICTR, presided over by Judge Erik Møse of Norway. Who is assisted by Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov of Russia as well as Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. SV/CE/FH (ML'0225e)