01.06.07 - ICTR/AGENDA - JUNE 2007: CONTINUATION OF A "PROBLEM RIDDEN" TRIAL

Arusha, 1st June 2007 (FH) - June 2007 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should be marked, in particular, by the resumption of a trial commonly referred to as presenting constant "problems".
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Initially known as "Government I", the case against Edouard Karemera and others, of the name of the second Vice-President of the governing party in Rwanda during the 1990's, will continue on June 11 after a five months suspension of proceedings and rough legal battles.

Last January, Ghanaian Judge Emile Shorts, recused himself from this trial, in progress since September 2005, for health reasons, thus offering to the protagonists the occasion to explore several legal options.

The two co-defendants of Karemera, Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively president and secretary-general of his political party, proposed that a new trial be held, asserting irregularities which, according to them, had sullied the proceedings.

Nzirorera proposed, alternatively, that he be transferred to a national jurisdiction other than Rwanda, because the ICTR would not be able to judge him before the expiry of its mandate, set for 31 December 2008.

Karemera was, for his part, favorable to the continuation of the proceedings on the basis of obtaining guarantees of a full and complete defense.

The Appeal Chamber which had, during another trial in May 2004, ordered a new trial, has, this time, gone the other way and decided in favour of continuing. The Chamber of 2004 had been consequently deprived of the case for "appearances of partiality".

At the time of Judge Shorts' departure, the Prosecutor had called thirteen witnesses on the announced hundred. The replacing Judge, Vagn Joensen, a Danish citizen, took oath on 2 May; since then, he has been attentively revising the transcripts of the proceedings as recommended it to him with irony by one of the lawyers.

Put aside the trial of Karemera, the various Chambers will have four other cases during June: Renzaho, Government II, Military II and Butare.

Tharcisse Renzaho, a colonel of the former Rwandan Armed Forces, was a prefect in Kigali in 1994.

As of 4 June, he will continue his defense, started in mid-May. Arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September 2002, Renzaho has been on trial since 8 January of this year.

The Prosecutor is alleging that he took part in the massacres of Tutsis in the zone which he administered. He has pled not guilty.

In the "Government II" trial, which concerns four former ministers, it is also the defense which is presenting its evidence. The trial started in November 2003. The calendar provides that the proceedings will continue until 15 June.

The two other trials that will take place during the month also have the defense presenting witnesses. Butare, the oldest cases in progress at the ICTR, will be held from the 4 to the 29, Military II from 1 to the 29.

The Butare trial, an area in the south of Rwanda, has six accused. It started in June 2001. Soldiers II, for its part, has four officers, including two Generals. The trial began in September 2004.

In June, the Tribunal will also be deliberating on two cases: François Karera, the former prefect of rural Kigali, and Soldiers I, which relates to four other high ranked officers.

While Karera has been deliberating since November 2006, Military I will be as of June 1, 2007.

AT/PB/MM
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