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Arusha, January 31 2007 (FH) – At least five trials are expected in February at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). However, the judicial calendar of the ICTR is not yet finalized, only that of the third chamber has been communicated. Two joint trials and at least three individual ones are very likely to continue. The joint trials are “Butare” (six accused among whom one woman) and “Bizimungu and others.”(four accused). The accused in a single trial are Simon Bikindi, Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of the late president Juvénal Habyarimana, and Tharcisse Renzaho, former Prefect of Kigali city. The trial of Bikindi will resume on February 12 for a two-week session during which the prosecutor is expected to close the presentation of witnesses. Bikindi’s trial started on September 18 2006. Bikindi, 53, a very popular musician in Rwanda, is accused of having used his talent as a means to encourage the genocide. The prosecutor alleges that his songs, which have been aired regularly between April and July 1994, incited Hutus to kill Tutsis and opponents. Bikindi has pleaded not guilty. He was arrested in The Netherlands on July 12 2001. Zigiranyirazo’s trial will resume on February 26 with the presentation of witnesses by the defense. The session should last eight weeks. Zigiranyirazo, 69, was arrested in Belgium on July 26 2001 and his trial opened on October 3 2005. Zigiranyirazo had been Prefect of Kibuye (West) and Ruhengeri (north) before he became a businessman. In this trial, the question of the akazu (meaning small house in Kinyarwanda) sometimes surfaces. The men and women who composed this circle close to the ex-president are said to have exercised all political, economic and military power till the end of the genocide. The key witness in this trial has been a former industrialist, Michel Bagaragaza, indicted himself by the ICTR himself, who has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. The defence is vigorously disputing the credibility of his testimony. Another defendant, Col. Tharcisse Renzaho, ex-prefect of Kigali, has been on trial since January 8 2007. The prosecutor is still presenting his case. Renzaho, 63, was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo on September 29 2002. He is accused of having committed massacres of Tutsis in at least three different sites in Kigali city: He has pleaded not guilty. The Tribunal had previously scheduled another separate trial for early February but the proceedings went faster than expected. The accused, Siméon Nshamihigo, a 46 year-old former deputy prosecutor in Cyangugu (south-west) is charged with genocide. His trial opened on September 25 2006; the prosecutor closed his case on January 29. In the two joint trials, Butare and Bizimungu, the presentation of witnesses for the defense has started. In Butare, two defendants have already presented theirs, in Bizimungu and others, the witnesses in favor of the second defendant are still being heard. « Butare » concerns the ex-Minister for Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, a former college student accused of having led a local militia, two ex-prefects, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo and two former mayors, Elie Ndayambaje (Muganza) and Joseph Kanyabashi (Ngoma). They have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity related charges. In addition to Casimir Bizimungu, ex-Minister of Health, the trial Bizimungu and alii regroups three other members of the interim government: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jérôme Bicamumpaka, the Minister of Trade, Justin Mugenzi, and the minister of Public Service, Prosper Mugiraneza. They have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity too. AT/MG © Hirondelle News Agency