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Arusha, March 1, 2007 (FH) – The defense of the chief accused of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, asked for the hearing of the current Rwandan Defense Minister, General Marcel Gatsinzi, though the hearings of witnesses in this trial officially closed January 19, it was learned from one judicial source. Cabinet director in the Ministry of Defense in 1994, Bagosora is accused of being the “mastermind” of the genocide which caused, according to Kigali, nearly one million deaths, essentially all members of the Tutsi ethnic group. “Colonel Bagosora’s defense maintains that it can not rest its case until Gatsinzi testifies,” wrote his lawyers Raphael Constant (France) and Allison Turner (Canada). The Trial Chamber set next April 2 as the deadline for the written conclusions of the defense. Asked by Mr. Constant at the close of hearings last January 19, the President of the Chamber, Erik Mose, also President of the Tribunal, responded that a written decision was almost ready. Last September 11, the Chamber had, following a request by Bagosora’s defense, ordered the appearance of General Gatsinzi who was interim Chief of General Staff of the Rwandan army during the 10 first days of the genocide of April-July 1994. The general had, as the new request recalls, set forth two conditions: to be heard as a witness for the Chamber and not as a defense witness and to testify through video-conference from Kigali. During a status conference last October, the Judges, who according to the rules on their own accord call a witness to appear, declared that Gatsinzi could not appear as a Trial Chamber witness, thus rejecting the first condition. “At this moment, a decision is still awaited on the question of knowing whether Marcel Gatsinzi will come to Arusha to testify or if the Chamber will authorise him to testify by video-conference,” reminded the defense counsel in their new request. Bagosora is being tried with three other officers: the former chief of Military Operations at the General Staff of the Army, Brigadier-General Gratien Kabiligi, the former Commander of the Military Sector of Gisenyi (North), Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and the former commander of the Paracommando Batallion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze. Accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the 4 men have pled not-guilty. This trial, considered one of the most important of the history of the ICTR, substantively started in April 2002. The prosecutor has called 82 witnesses whereas the defense teams together have put forward 160. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency