27.03.07 – ICTR/MILITARY I – NEARLY ONE THOUSAND PAGES OF CONCLUSIONS OF THE PROSECUTION

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Arusha, March 27, 2008 (FH) – While the last arguments of the parties will be heard from May 28 to June 1 in the trial called “Military 1,” one of the most important in the history of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the prosecutor has submitted 953 pages of written conclusions obligating the defense teams to ask for an extension for the submission of their briefs. The Chamber has given them until April 2 to submit them. The trial implicates 4 officers of the former Rwandan Army, including the former director of the cabinet of the Defense Ministry, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, accused of being the “brain” of the 1994 genocide. The others are the former chief of military operations at the General Staff of the Army, the Brigadier-General Gratien Kabilgi, the former commandant of the military sector of Gisenyi (north), Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and former Commandant of the Paracommando Batallion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze. In a decision dated Monday, the Chamber “orders the defense teams of Ntabakuze, Nsengiyumva and Kabiligi to submit their conclusions by April 23, 2007 at the latest.” Recognizing themselves that the text of the prosecutor’s brief is very voluminous, the judges assessed that the extension would accord the three defendants “a facilitation of work during the drafting of the judgment.” In a previous decision, the Chamber had already given an extension to Bagosora’s defense which related to the particular linguistic difficulties. The working language of the chief counsel, Raphael Constant, as well that of the accused is French while the prosecution’s brief was submitted in English. The judges gave an extension until May 10 to Bagosora’s defense to allow the lead counsel and the accused to read the prosecution’s brief as it is being translated by a translation service. The official languages of the ICTR are French end English but the majority of testimonies are done in Kinyarwanda. Being tried for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the 4 accused have pleaded not-guilty. Their trials substantively started in April 2002. The prosecutor finished his case in October 14, 2004 and the defense last January 19. In all, 242 prosecution and defense witnesses have been heard. The judgment should be made next year. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency