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Arusha, January 30 2007 (FH) – The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has refused to grant a new trial to Col. Aloys Simba, a former companion of the late President Juvénal Habyarimana. Aloys Simba, 69, sentenced on December 13 2005 to twenty-five years in prison on the charges of genocide and crime against humanity, had appealed the judgment and the sentence. Later on, he had filed a request for the review of the trial judgment and the return of the case to the trial chamber, after the discovery of « new facts». The defence team of Simba has leaned upon a recent statement of an « investigator-witness » concerning the distance between the Murambi Technical School and the Kaduha parish in the south west of Rwanda, two sites where the accused has been found guilty of having killed Tutsis. The trial Chamber has accepted as credible the testimonies according to which the accused would have traveled from Murambi to Kaduha in forty minutes, an element the defence is contesting. The above mentioned investigator has not been heard during the trial. According to him, it would take a minimum of three hours to cover the distance between the two locations in an all-roads vehicle. To justify the dismissal of Simba’s request, the Appeals Chamber has underlined that the issue of the distance had already been debated at length during the trial, thus it didn’t qualify as a new fact. The judges of the Appeals Chamber have also rejected another request the defence has filed for a site visit, reminding that the request had already been dismissed twice. In 1973, Aloys Simba belonged to the Committee for Peace and National Unity, a group of senior military officers responsible for a military coup which ousted the first president, Grégoire Kayibanda. He was replaced by Juvénal Habyarimana whose assassination on April 6 1994 sparked off the genocide. Simba was arrested in Senegal in November 2001; his trial opened in August 2004. The appeal hearing might occur in May. AT © Hirondelle News Agency