Arusha, 27 July 2007 (FH)-Activities remained very limited during the week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in waiting for the judicial recess, of approximately fifteen days, which begins next Friday.

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The proceedings should be adjourned on 3 August and start again on 20 August.

This week, two trials were scheduled but only one covered the entire week.

The "Karemera et al." trial, which concerns three former leaders of the former ruling party, the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND).

Edouard Karemera, one of the defendants, was vice president of the MRND. His co-defendants are Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively president and secretary general of that political party.

The ICTR Prosecutor accuses them of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in several areas of Rwanda between April and July 1994. They have pleaded not guilty.

This joint trial began on 19 September 2005. The chamber is still hearing witnesses for the prosecution.

This week was primarily devoted to the hearing of the former prefect of Gitarama (central Rwanda), Fidèle Uwizeye.

The interim government in power during the genocide had taken refuge in Gitarama on 12 April 1994, fleeing the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Uwizeye, like the witness who preceded him, a former mayor of a commune in Gitarama, affirmed that if the government had not settled in Gitarama, Tutsis of that prefecture would not have been killed.

The lawyers disputed the credibility of this witness; pleading, notably, that he had perjured himself in another ongoing trial at the ICTR.

The defence also concentrated on his membership to the RPF, the party that overtook the MRND.

In 1994, Uwizeye was a member of the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR), now dissolved. Appointed prefect in 1992, he was dismissed by the interim government. Currently, he is a director in charge of geology and mines in a ministry in Kigali.

It is the third time that Uwizeye testifies at the ICTR. The first time was in 1998 in the trial of the former mayor of Taba in Gitarama, Jean-Paul Akayesu, one of his former subordinates. He had been called by the defence. Uwizeye, however, stated that he had made the journey without knowing which side had called for his appearance.

Last year, Uwizeye testified for the prosecution in the trial of four former ministers of the interim government.

The lawyers largely exploited his statements in these various trials to extract some contradictions and discredit him in front of the judges.

A part from the Karemera trial, court briefly sat this week in the case of Emmanuel Rukundo.

Rukundo, 48, is a catholic priest accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the area of Kabgayi, in central Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty.

In 1994, Rukundo was a military chaplain. His trial began on 15 November 2006. The defence has been calling its witnesses since 9 July.

The proceedings were to continue until 27 July but they were adjourned prematurely on Tuesday because of the unavailability of the witnesses. The proceedings will restart on 3 September. The defence will rest its case on 6 October, stated the president of the chamber, Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka).

© Hirondelle News Agency