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Arusha, January 26 (FH) – The decision of the Ghanean judge Francis Short to withdraw from the chamber in charge of « Karemera », the joint trial of three leaders of the old single party in Rwanda, might further delay the procedure, an official source at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has declared. A previous trial regrouping the same defendants plus a former minister, opened in November 2003, had been suspended in May 2004 after the president had had to withdraw herself from the chamber on the grounds of a « suspicion of subjectivity » on her part. The debates resumed in September 2005 before another chamber and with one less defendant. Since then, the prosecution has been presenting its evidences at a pace so slow that it worries the advocates of a completion of the ICTR procedures by the end of 2008. The accused have been in jail since June 1998. In the eventuality of the withdrawal of a judge, the tribunal has the possibility to appoint another one and reconstitute the trio of judges. Either the debates are taken up from where they had stopped - the new judge having access to all the tapings of past testimonies - or all witnesses have to be heard all over again. The media services of the tribunal haven’t said what solution has been chosen in this case. The next sitting of the court in this trial was scheduled for March. The withdrawal of Judge Short is prompted by health reasons, the media services have announced. They also specified that Judge Short was not resigning from the tribunal. He is effectively sitting in another ongoing trial which is closer to being concluded. The ICTR, which has tried 32 persons to this day, has a pool of 18 judges, 9 of which are permanent judges. Nine others are appointed ad litem (for a specific trial). Theoretically, all the trials in first instance should be over by December 31 2008. Karemera was supposed to be concluded before the end of 2008. PB/AT © Hirondelle News Agency