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Arusha, January 26 2007 (FH) – The conspicuous event of the week is the death of the minister Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, released a little more than a month ago by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ntakurutimana, 83, had been discharged on December 6 after he had completed his ten-year prison term. He died at the hospital in Arusha. Though he had been found guilty, his being in weak health accounted for the mitigation of his sentence. Ntakurutimana was arrested in Texas, USA in 1996 and condemned by the ICTR for having supported and helped perpetrate the genocide in his native region, Mugonero (west of Rwanda). The verdict was issued in February 2003 and confirmed in appeal one year later. In 1994, Elizaphan Ntakuritimana was the minister of the Mugonero Church and supervisor for the Adventist Church of the western zone of Rwanda which comprised the old prefectures of Kibuye and of Cyangugu. He was tried alongside one of his sons, Gérard Ntakirutimana, a doctor at the Mugonero hospital. Dr. Ntakirutimana received twenty-five years of imprisonment. He has been the first person condemned by the ICTR to be released at the end of his prison term. The location and the date of the minister’s funeral will be set by his wife and their seven children. To this day, the ICTR, created in November 1994, has condemned twenty-eight persons to terms ranging from six years to life imprisonment; five others have been acquitted. Also, the different chambers of first instance have made headway into other procedures. The cases on the tribunal’s schedule this week were Butare, Casimir Bizimungu and co., Renzaho and Nshamihigo. Butare opened in June 2001; it is the oldest of the ICTR ongoing trials. The six defendants on trial have been presenting their defense. Three of them are already done, the fourth one has begun. The chamber intends to close the debates at the end of the first semester 2007. Obstacles remain nevertheless, especially with the judges not having settled the delicate matter of how many witnesses remain to be heard yet. Casimir Bizimungu and Co., formerly known as « Government II », concerns four former ministers of the interim government in power during the genocide. Bizimungu was Minister of Health, Justin Mugenzi, Minister of Trade, Jérôme Clément Bicamumpaka, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prosper Mugiraneza, Minister for the Civil Service. The trial of Bizimungu and his co-accused opened in November 2003. The presentation of evidences for the defense has started. Mugenzi has gone first, now is Bizimungu’s turn. The other two will follow. In the remaining two cases, prosecution witnesses are being heard. Tharcisse Renzaho was an officer in the old Rwandan Army and prefect of Kigali from October 1990 to 1994. Renzaho was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September 2002; his trial started on January 8 2007. Siméon Nshamihigo worked as a deputy prosecutor in Cyangugu (south-west). He was arrested in Tanzania in May 2001 and his trial opened in September 2006. AT/PB/MG © Hirondelle News Agency