Arusha, February 24, 2004 (FH) - Four former Rwanda government ministers on Monday boycotted their re-initial appearance at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The prosecution had introduced an amended indictment for the former vice president of the ruling MRND party and minister for interior, Edouard Karemera .

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The accused were represented in Court by their defence counsels before Judge Florence Rita Arrey from Cameroon. The new indictment sets out seven similar counts for each of the accused, and they include genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, rape, extermination and crimes against humanity. Others accused in this trial are the former president of MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the secretary general of the party, and president of the transitional parliament, Joseph Nzirorera and Andre Rwamakuba, former minister of primary and secondary education. All the accused pleaded not guilty. Before the hearing begun, Nzirorera's defence counsel, Peter Robison form the USA, informed the court that he had been instructed by his client that he would boycott the proceedings until the tribunal responded to a letter allegedly written by the accused. The contents of the letter were not revealed. Apart from Rwamakuba, the other accused had always appeared in court. Rwamakuba has boycotted the trial ever since it began, saying that his case file had been “manipulated by the prosecutor”. Before the prosecutor amended his indictment, he had already called eight witnesses, most of whom had incriminated Joseph Nzirorera and Andre Rwamakuba. Nzirorera is accused of organising massacres in his hometown of Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) while Rwamakuba is accused of massacres carried out in the town of Butare (southern Rwanda). Recommencement of the trial has been set for March 29. KN/CE/FH(GVII''0224e)