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Arusha, March 14, 2007 (FH) – The defence of Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the former president of the MRND, the party in power in Rwanda during the genocide, persisted in its fears of not having sufficient time to present the defence of their client from now until the closing of the Tribunal on December 31, 2008. They therefore appealed the decision given at the beginning of March by Judges Dennys Byron and Gustave Kam to continue the trial after the departure, for health reasons, of Judge Emile Short. This departure came at the beginning of the year while the Chamber had heard 16 witnesses of the prosecution out of 110 planned. This trial started on September 19, 2005. Ngirumpatse has been imprisoned since June 1998. In their request, they had asked that this trial be transferred, specifically arguing the fact that the prosecution has presented its case for 18 months and until now has spent 100 days on hearings. At this pace, the presentation of prosecution evidence should last until the end of the year contrary to the previsions which has fixed its term to summer 2007. Three people are accused in this trial. Other than Mathieu Ngirumpatse, they include Joseph Nzirorera, former Secretary General of the movement and Edouard Karemara, former Vice-President. Only the latter has accepted the continuation of the proceeding on the condition that the third judge takes his time to have a perfect knowledge of the case. The two others assume that a supplementary judge will not have the time to learn the former debates and that in any case, debates could not be finished between now and December 31, 2008. The tribunal appears to envision having a judgment rendered in 2009 after the end of the work of the Tribunal, but even this solution doesn’t seem imaginable. Referring to the mathematic calculations that the Tribunal regularly presents to the United Nations Security Council to reassure it that it respects the deadline it has been given, Ngirumpatse’s lawyers, Ms. Chantal Hounkpatin and Frederic Weyl, explain that they could not materially take advantage of the same possibilities as the prosecution. “In the way that things are going,” they write, “the right of the accused to a fair trial,” and “the right to be judged in a reasonable time period” are being “sacrificed.” Ngirumpatse’s lawyers also made notice in their request to the Appeals Chamber that in their response they should, according to the Tribunal rules, be “en banc” and that one of the judges who sits there, Mrs. Andresia Vaz, could not be seated in this trial. The three men were in effect previously judged by this judge and the debates should have been cancelled, Mrs. Vaz having been obliged to withdraw for reason of “appearance of partiality.” PB/ER/KD © Hirondelle News Agency