Arusha, 18 June 2007 (FH) -The trial in which the former Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army is being tried alongside three other officers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was adjourned Monday until September 16 and the defense teams invited to reduce the announced number of witnesses.

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General Augustin Bizimungu is being tried with the former Chief of Staff of the national gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, the former recognition battalion commander, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded a squadron within the recognition battalion.

Indicted for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the 4 accused pled not guilty.

Monday, at the end of a "status conference", the Chamber presided by the Sri Lankan Judge Joseph Asoka De Silva announced that the next session would begin on 16 September with the continuation of General Bizimungu's defense.

Since the beginning of the presentation of his evidence on 14 April, the general already called 24 witnesses out of the 80 announced in his "preliminary statement of case" to the trial.

Judge De Silva exhorted Gilles Saint- Laurent, the Canadian lead council of Bizimungu, to retain "a realistic number" in order to prevent that several witnesses do not come "to tell the same thing". St. Laurent responded that he was certainly going to reduce the number of his witnesses.

The three other defense teams, which have not yet began their defense, were also invited to shorten the lists which they had announced.

After the procession of witnesses for Bizimungu, it will be Ndindiliyimana's turn, then Nzuwonemeye and finally Sagahutu.

This trial, one of the most important of the history of the ICTR because it aims at the upper echelons of the army and of the gendarmerie, opened in September 2004.

© Hirondelle News Agency