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Arusha, February 19, 2007 (FH) – Judges have refused to confront a lawyer and a witness who the lawyer is accused of bribing Monday in the trial of musician Simon Bikindi in trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The Cameroonian lawyer Mr. Jean de Dieu Momo, co-counsel for Bikindi, was accused last week by a witness for the prosecution nick-named BUY to protect his identity, of attempting to bribe him. This accusation brought the prosecution to demand the withdrawal of Mr. Momo. The Registry, in charge of organizing legal assistance has immediately opened an inquiry. BUY is a witness who is at the center of the prosecution’s inquiry. “I think that since the witness is here, it would be opportune to examine in a transparent manner the accusations that have been brought against me,” suggested the lawyer. The judges have refused to confront him, preferring instead to wait for the conclusions of the Registry. “Being that the Registry is in charge of investigating the matter, he will question the witness and the results will be communicated to the Chamber which will take advantage of the findings to evaluate the credibility of the witness,” declared the presiding Judge Monica Ines Weinberg de Roca. The Argentinean Judge explained, “It isn’t necessary to redo the work.” The matter, revealed to the chamber last Monday, has created tension between the chief lawyer, the Kenyan Mr. Wilfred Nderitu, and Mr. Momo. The Cameroonian lawyer, who is supported by the accused, speaks of a “plot.” The facts go back to last December. During a visit to the Gisenyi prison (in the north of Rwanda), where the witness BUY is held, Mr. Momo met him while knowing that the witness was protected, according to the accusation. The lawyer managed to have BUY sign a favourable statement for Bikindi, promising him money in exchange. Mr. Momo rejects these allegations, stating that the witness has lied and accused him to be a “seller of declarations.” Monday, the witness in question had no kind words for Bikindi, alleging that he incited massacres of Tutsis in Butare (south) and in Gisenyi. After having presented himself as a member of one of the active militias during the genocide, he accused the musician of having distributed arms, in particular. With Buy, the prosecutor is on the verge of closing his case in the trial which started on September 18, 2006. He only has two witnesses left to call, 18 others have already testified, including two experts. Bikindi, aged 54, was arrested in the Netherlands July 12, 2001. He is accused in large part of having incited the genocide of the Tutsis through his songs which were regularly transmitted on the radio between April and July 1994. He has pled not-guilty. AT /PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency