Arusha, 3 May 2007 (FH) – The calendar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will be quite full in May 2007 in first instance as well as in appeal.
Like every year, the judges of the Appeals Chamber, who reside in The Hague, The Netherlands, will be in Arusha for several hearings and a plenary session with the Prosecutor, the Registrar and the Judges of Trial Chambers. The plenary session destined to modify the Rules of procedure and evidence in order to improve the Tribunal’s efficiency will take place on 21 May. As the second mandate of the Norwegian Judge Erik Mose is close to expire, the next President of the Tribunal will be elected during this meeting. The name of Judge Dennis Byron (Saint Kitts and Newis) was the most often cited.
21 May is also the date retained for the reading of the judgement of Mika Muhimana, a former municipal advisor, who was convicted to life imprisonment on 28 April 2005. The Trial Chamber declared him guilty for the massacres of Tutsis in the West of Rwanda in 1994, as well as for rapes. He appealed the judgement and the sentence.
The day after, the Appeals Chamber will hear Colonel Aloys Simba, convicted to 25 years’ imprisonment on 13 December 2005. The former officer was notably convicted for having participated in the massacres of Tutsis at the Technical School of Murambi in the South west of Rwanda, which later became a memorial of the genocide.
In first instance, the planned trials are the cases Government II, Military II, Butare and Renzaho. The judges will also sit some days in Nchamihigo and Military II.
The case called Government II concerns four former ministers of the interim government in power during the genocide. It started in November 2003. The defence is currently presenting its case. Suspended since 21 February, the hearings started again on 30 April. They will keep on in May. The accused are the former Ministers for Health, Casimir Bizimungu, of Trade, Justin Mugenzi, of Foreign Affairs, Jérôme Bicamumpaka, and of the Public Service, Prosper Mugiraneza. Accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, all of them have pled not guilty.
The Military II case has been pending since September 2004. It concerns four officers of the former Rwandan Army, among them are two Chiefs of staff: General Augustin Bizimungu (army) and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana (gendarmerie). Like in Government II right currently, the defence’s witnesses are currently heard.
Butare is the oldest trial among them which are still pending before the ICTR. It started in June 2001. It concerns six accused of genocide and crimes against humanity who come from this southern region of Rwanda. Among them is the only woman detained by the ICTR, the former minister for family and female promotion, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, being tried with her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, a former student suspected of having been responsible for a local militia. In this case, too, the defence’s witnesses are currently heard.
Also to be noted is the beginning of the Defence’s case in the trial of the former prefect of Kigali town, Colone Tharcisse Renzaho. Being tried since 9 January 2007, Renzaho will cite his witnesses from 14 May. The Prosecutor closed its case on 7 February. He cited twenty-three witnesses.
In the case of Siméon Nchamihigo, a former magistrate in Cyangugu (south west) being tried since September 2006, the Trial Chamber has been heard the defence’s witnesses since the last 23 April. The hearings will be suspended on the 4th of May in order to enable the preparation of the next session.
Finally, on 23 May, closing arguments will start in the case Military I concerning Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and three other officers. It is one of the main trials of the ICTR. Bagosora is accused of having been the “brain” of the genocide. The hearings of this case started on 2 April 2002. The Prosecutor closed its case on 14 December 2004 after having cited 82 witnesses. The defence has called 160 witnesses.
© Hirondelle News Agency