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Arusha, March 23, 2007 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) this week cleared the Cameroonian lawyer Mr. Jean de Dieu Momo accused by the prosecutor of having bribed a witness. Mr. Momo represents the artist Simon Bikindi who is being tried for inciting the genocide of Tutsis through the bias of his songs. Bikindi has pleaded not guilty. On February 9, the prosecutor in charge of the Bikindi case alleged before the judges that Mr. Momo had met a protected prosecution witness and extracted from him a declaration after promising him money. The Trial Chamber subsequently ordered to the Registry, the competent authority that names and withdraws attorneys committed to the defense of indigent suspects, to launch an investigation. After examining all the accusations, the Registrar concluded that the allegations made against Mr. Momo were without foundation. The Registrar indicated that there was no clear evidence that Mr. Momo had violated any ethical rule specifically by offering a financial inducement to a prosecution witness. Bikindi has been on trial since September 18, 2006. The prosecutor closed its case in February. Defense witnesses will appear starting in June. Mr. Momo assists Mr. Wilfred Nderitu (Kenya) in Bikindi’s defense. The artist states that he has lost trust in Mr. Nderitu, who in this saga, supported the prosecutor. He therefore demanded that the Registry withdraw his credentials. The adjunct Registrar, Everard O’Donnell, declared Thursday that this request was still being examined. With respect to hearings, the Tribunal sat this week in only two cases, in contrast to the highly active docket last month. They include the Butare trial, referring to the name of the southern region of Rwanda of which six natives are jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. They have been on trial since June 2001. This week, the fourth accused, the former prefect Alphonse Ntzeiryayo, pursued his defense. One of his witnesses was Prosper Ingabire, a cousin of the former national official of the Interahamwe milita active during the genocide, Robert Kajuga. The prosecution alleges that Robert Kaguja and militiaman who escorted him committed massacres in Butare in collaboration with local officials. The witness Ingabire declared that Kajuga was gravely ill and was bedridden during the whole time that he spent in Butare. The witness was urgently called to be his health-aide, he said. Robert Kajuga died some time after in Kinshasa following his illness. The Zigiranyirazo trial is the second ongoing trial at the Tribunal this week. Protais Zigiranyirazo, aged 69 years, a brother-in-law of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, has been on trial since October 2005. He is currently presenting his defense. He has just gone through the twentieth witnesses out of the forty-something announced. Contrary to the practice in the majority of trials before the ICTR, Zigaranyirazo’s defense witnesses’ have testified without facial distortion. The last testimonies bear on the akazu (small house in kinyarwanda), a term which, according to the prosecutor, refers to a close circle consisting of the former president’s relatives, who planned the genocide of Tutsis in 1994. Zigranyirazo would have been one of the principal participants. The witnesses called by the accused declared that the akazu was an invention of Habyarimana’s opponents. Among them is Anastase Munyandekwe, spokesperson for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel movement based in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to him, the term akazu was created in 1991, at the dawn of multiparty rule, by a dozen opponents of which he was part. Their goal was, he said, to “demonize” President Habyarimana and all people who refused to leave his party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND). Munyandekwe corroborated the testimony of another Habyarimana opponent, Jean-Marie Vianney Nkezabera, previously heard. Nkezabera indicated that, “We wanted to weaken President Habyarimana. Between the slogans, we invented the term akazu. All those who helped him were considered people caged in a small hut.” According to Nkezabera, akazu was pejoratively used to refer to a “small hut where lepers were caged.” Friday, Zigiranyirazo’s defense attempted to admit as an expert witness a former Rwandan government official residing in Belgium, Gaspard Musabyimana. Author of numerous books and articles about Rwanda of which “The true nature of the RPF” – a former rebel movement currently in power in Kigali – Gaspard Musabyimana declared to be the only researcher to “systematize” the akazu concept on “a dozen pages.” Musabyimana noted that other researchers had only evoked the concept quickly, in “one or two sentences.” Musabyimana indicated that during his numerous years in the Rwandan administration, he had never observed the existence “of a parallel government.” The prosecution alleges that members of the akazu, although outside of the administrative structure, controlled all political, economic, and military power before and during the genocide. AT/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency