16.08.07 - ICTR/GOVERNMENT II - THE TRIAL OF FOUR FORMER MINISTERS TO RESUME IN A MONTH

 

Arusha, 16 August 2007 (FH)-The trial of four former Ministers ongoing before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has been adjourned on Thursday and will resume on 17 September following the death of one of the defence counsels.   

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The defendants include the former minister of foreign affairs, Jerome Bicamumpaka, the former minister of health, Casimir Bizimungu, the former minister of commerce, Justin Mugenzi, and Prosper Mugiraneza, the former minister of civil service.
 
All are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity and had pleaded not guilty. Their joint trial started on 6 November 2003.
 
The death of Pierre Gaudreau (Canada), the lead counsel of Jerome Bicamumpaka, occurred on Monday at a Nairobi hospital.
 
Bicamumpaka, 50, had just begun his defence case. The deceased joined the ICTR in 2000 as a co-counsel of Bicamumpaka and was appointed lead counsel in 2002.
 
During a status conference on Thursday, the current co-counsel, Michel Croteau (Canada) requested more time for the preparation of the case.
 
During his opening statement on Monday, Croteau said that Bicamumpaka is innocent and will demonstrate it. He intends to call twenty five defence witnesses including one expert.
 
The lawyer said that in 1994, Bicamumpaka’s sphere of activity was diplomatic relations and not the internal business of the country.
 
Me Croteau added that Bicamumpaka took part only in "four or five meetings of the Cabinet" from April to July 1994.
 
Bicamumpaka is the third defendant in this case to call defence witnesses after Mugenzi and Bizimungu. He was arrested in Cameroon on 6 April 1999.
 
AS/AT
 
© Hirondelle News Agency