31.08.07 - ICTR/MUNYAKAZI - THE PROSECUTOR INTENDS TO TRY A FORMER FARMER BEFORE A NATIONAL COURT

Arusha, 31 August 2007 (FH) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will request next week to try before a national court the former farmer Yussuf Munyakazi accused of genocide, it was learned Friday from Arusha.
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A senior trial attorney, Richard Karegyesa (Uganda), stated during a "status conference" that a motion to this aim was about to be filed.

Karegyesa did not specify towards which country the prosecutor would wish to transfer the defendant. A source close to the case, however, indicated to the Hirondelle news agency that it would be Rwanda.

Munyakazi, 72, was a prosperous farmer and businessman in Cyangugu (southwestern Rwanda). He would have led a militia which took part in several attacks against Tutsis in 1994.

Arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004, he has pled not guilty.

Norwegian Judge Erik Mose, who presided the status conference, however estimated that, as it was difficult to know if the motion of the prosecutor would be granted, it was advisable to determine the trial calendar in prospect of it being held before the ICTR.

The defence recommended that the trial open in February 2008 and the prosecutor in April. Judge Mose invited the parties to a new status conference next December "to measure the temperature".

Yussuf Munyakazi is defended by a Tanzanian lawyer, Juan Mwaikusa.

Mwaikusa has already defended before the courts of his country, Rwandan Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, who later became a prisoner in Belgium where he was tried in connection with the genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994. In July 2007, Ntuyahaga was sentenced to twenty years in prison by the crown court of Brussels. He has appealed the decision.

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© Hirondelle News Agency