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Arusha, February 23, 2007 – The principal event of the week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was the conviction of Joseph Nzabirinda, a former official for youths in the south of Rwanda, to 7 years in prison. In December of last year, Nzabirinda pled guilty to a crime against humanity for having been an “approving spectator” during two assassinations committed in his district. Nzabirinda is the seventh defendant before the ICTR who has confessed since the effective start of the trials in 1997. The confessed was arrested in Belgium in December 2001. The time spent in detention will be deducted from his sentence. The president of the Tribunal will determine the country where he will serve the rest of his sentence. Nzabirinda hopes to be transferred to France. In other news, the Tribunal will hold hearings in four other matters. The trial which has attracted the most attention is that of the artist Simon Bikindi, who is accused of having incited genocide against the Tutsis through his songs regularly transmitted on the radio between April and July 1994. The prosecution has rested its case this week after having called twenty witnesses. The trial started September 18 of last year. The atmosphere was particularly tense on the side of the defense during the last phase in the prosecution’s case, Bikindi continuously demanding the withdrawal of his principal attorney. The co-counsel, for his part, was damaged by allegations of witness tampering brought by the prosecution. The Registry is investigating that matter, and its conclusions are being awaited. They should be made public Monday. The prosecution must next rest its case in another individual trial which will also carry on this week: that of the abbot Emmanuel Rukundo, a former military chaplain, in trial since last November. The Tribunal has also had hearings in two collective trials: Butare (south, six defendants) and Government II (four defendants). In both, the defense is calling its witnesses. While the Butare trial will continue next week, Government II was for its part, suspended for two months for scheduling reasons. Two judges from this Chamber will sit next Monday, February 26, in the trial of Protais Zigiranyirazo, former prefect of Ruhengeri (north), a brother in law of the former president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death on April 6, 1994 in a plane downing served as a catalyst for the genocide. The defense will continue to present its arguments. AT/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency