Arusha, January 22, 2004 (FH) – The defence of former Rwandan minister and genocide suspect Casimir Bizimungu on Thursday applied to have evidence offive prosecution witnesses disregarded at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bizimungu a former Minister for health is in a joint trial with the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service.

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The motion filed on Monday, challenging the evidence, was argued in court by Bizimungu's co-counsel Alexandra Marcil. She told the trial chamber that. Marcil argued that the evidence of the five witnesses are incriminating Bizimungu in regard crimes he allegedly committed in Ruhengeri, whereas, she argued, the indictment does not state facts on Bizimungu's alleged crimes in Ruhengeri Prefecture during the 1994 genocide. “We submit that the evidence by these witnesses should not be admitted,” she concluded. The co-counsel also complained that the prosecution did not disclose the statements of the witnesses in question in time. This, she added, has not given the defence enough time to prepare their case. “The interest of justice dictates that the evidence of the witnesses be excluded,” she said. Two of the five witnesses, GAP and GKB, and have already testified. The prosecutor, Ibukunolu Babajide (Nigeria), responding to the defence motion, blamed the Bizimungu's defence for lack of preparation. She arguedthat the defence should have challenged the defects in the indictments earlier. On the disclosure of the statements, the prosecutor stated that the prosecution disclosed them to the defence in a sufficient period. “We have given sufficient notice about the specific participation in crimes by this accused (Bizimungu)” Babajide declared. Babajide said the pre-trial brief was very specific and stated all the allegations to be made against each accused. She then urged the court to dismiss in entirety the defence motion. The court will deliver its decision on the motion next Monday. The trial continues on Friday with the cross-examination of the seventh prosecution witness GAP by Bizimungu's defence. The trial is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan). PJ/CE/FH (GVII'0122e)