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Arusha, February 13 2007 (FH) - An incident all parties have called a « serious » one has marked the resumption of the trial of the artist Simon Bikindi before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).This trial opened on September 18 2006; it was suspended at the end of 2006. The famous musician is accused of having encouraged the genocide of Tutsis in his songs which aired regularly on the radio between April and July 1994. The prosecution had presented 16 witnesses before the suspension; only three remain to be heard. On Monday morning, an expert witness, the Rwandan linguist Jean de Dieu Karangwa, a professor at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, was scheduled to testify. His hearing has been delayed because of the filing of an unexpected request by the prosecutor, William Egbe (Cameroon), who has accused one of the defense attorneys of having bribed off one of the prosecution witnesses. The prosecutor has required the exclusion of the defendant’s co-counsel, Jean de Dieu Momo (Cameroon). Oddly enough, William Egbe has received the support of Bikindi’s lead counsel, Mr. Wilfred Nderitu (Kenya).Egbe considers Momo’s conduct a « serious breach of professional behavior…for having concluded a reprehensible association with a prosecution witness ». The prosecutor has alleged that Mr. Momo would have been to the prison of Gisenyi, Rwanda where a prosecution witness would have told him things rather positive about Bikindi. According to Egbe, the attorney knew the man was on the list of witnesses the prosecution had given to the chamber and that an order forbade him to contact the man without prior authorization from the judges. Nderitu endorsed this approach in a document that was meant to be confidential. The reaction of the defendant to this situation has been violent. He asked the registrar to withdraw Mr. Nderitu his mandate to represent him. He blamed Mr. Nderitu for not having talked to him for several days hence jeopardizing his defense. « The lead counsel has rejected me completely. He refuses to talk with me. I reject Mr. Nderitu wholeheartedly », Bikindi declared.The chamber has asked the two attorneys to keep representing the defendant until a decision comes from the registry, the arm of the ICTR which appoints and dismisses attorneys to represent the accused. Effectively, because the latter are all considered as indigents, it is the Registrar who signs the checks for defense attorneys.AT/PB© Hirondelle News Agency