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Arusha, March 30, 2007 (FH) – The trial of six people accused of genocide in Butare (south) was suspended Tuesday for a little more than two weeks before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   Hearings will take place again on April 16.  In course since June 2001, Butare is the oldest trial that the Tribunal is handling at present.  The judges are currently hearing from defense witnesses called by the fourth defendant, the former prefect Aphonse Ntezirayo.   Among the co-defendants of Ntezirayo figure the former Minister of Family and Female Advancement, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman detainee of the ICTR.  All have pleaded not-guilty.   Apart from Butare, the Tribunal also held hearings only in one trial: that of the former prefect of Ruhengeri (North), Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana.   In this trial, the defense suffered a hard blow during the course of the week, the Trial Chamber having twice refused its expert witnesses.  The first, Gaspard Musabyimana, was a high level official in the Habyarimana administration; the second, Emmanuel Neretse, was an officer in the Rwandan Army.   They were specifically to testify on the parallel power structure in the administration and the army.  The prosecutor alleges that Zigiranyirazo was at the center of the akazu (small house in Kinyarwanda), a circle of relatives of the former President suspected of having exercised de facto power before and during the genocide.   Arrested in 2001 in Brussels, Zigiranyirazo, aged 69 years, has been on trial since October 2005.  He has pleaded not guilty.   Also of note in the news at the ICTR this week, a new development in the “Karemara et. al” trial, namely, the appeal by one of the three accused against the decision of the continuation of the trial following the withdrawal of a judge.   Edouard Karemara, Vice-President of the former Presidential Party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), is being tried with other former party officials: Matthieu Ngirumpatse, the President, and Joseph Nzirorera, the General-Secretary.   Last January, the Ghanian Judge Emile Francis Short, withdrew from the trial for health reasons.  The remaining judges subsequently decided to continue the trial with a substitute judge, despite the opposition of Nzirorera and Ngirumpatse.   After a previous plea introduced by Ngirumpatse, it was Nzirorera’s turn this week.  Both proposed the removal of the trial before a national jurisdiction other than Rwanda, arguing that the ICTR will not finish the trial before the end of its mandate in December 2008.  According to different information that has not been confirmed, it appears that the Tribunal is preparing to ask for an extension of its activities to permit it to render a judgment in this trial.   This joint trial started in September 2005.  At the time of Judge Short’s withdrawal, the prosecution had just called only 13 witnesses out of an anticipated number of around one hundred.   In May 2004, a previous trial which started in November 2003 with the same defendants and a non-political member of MRND was cancelled after the President of the Chamber, Andresia Vaz (Senegal) was obliged to withdraw for “appearance of partiality.”   The trial was also brought before the Appeals Chamber.    AT/PB/KD  © Hirondelle News Agency