Arusha, 28 August 2007 (FH) - The appeal chamber confirmed the decision of the chamber to limit the number of witnesses for the defence of Joseph Kanyabashi, the former mayor of Ngoma (prefecture of Butare) currently on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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This unusual decision has surprised the defence ranks in this trial known as "Butare" where six important officials of the region are on trial; a minister, her son, two prefects and two mayors including Kanyabashi. He is the last defendant to present his defence, which he started a week ago.
The number of witness was limited to 30. His lawyer Michel Marchand (Canada) had asked to call 60 witnesses. According to him the number of charges which are aimed at Kanyabashi justifies this number of witnesses. The prosecutor for his part called 59 witnesses.
Among the defendants who have already presented their cases, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for the Family and Women's Development, called 26 witnesses, her son, Shalom Ntahobali, 25, Sylvain Nsabimana, 12 and Alphonse Nteziryayo, 24. The court, which seeks to end the proceeding by the beginning of 2008, argued repetitive testimonies whereas the Kanyabashi's counsel estimates that, on the contrary, the case of his client is completely different from that of the principal accused.
The Butare trial started more than six years ago. The prosecutor's case lasted three years and a half. The defence has been presenting their cases since 31 January 2005. The majority of the defendants have been in custody for more than 10 years.

© Hirondelle News Agency