Arusha, 1 October, 2007 (FH) - Judge Dennys Byron refused once again to grant that a defendant be transferred to a national court by rejecting his fears of being tried under the constraint of the completion schedule of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The secretary-general of the former governing party, Joseph Nzirorera, wished to be tried by a national court other than Rwanda asserting that his trial will not be completed before the end of the ICTR mandate in December 2008. Already at the beginning of this year a first request in this manner had been rejected.

On Monday, at the resumption of the proceedings, the President Judge Dennis Byron stated that "here is not the place to examine this question". The magistrate originating from Saint-Kitts and Nevis, who is also the ICTR president, indicated that "reasonable measures will be adopted to take care that the trial remains fair and that this requirement for fairness could not be compromised by procedures of an administrative nature".

The lawyer for Nzirorera, Peter Robinson (United States), had pointed out that the prosecutor will finish his case in March 2008, leaving only nine months for the defence teams to call defence witnesses.

The trial involves three defendants.

The prosecutor will have used two years and half to present his case, raised Robinson, making it clear that there was lack of fairness.

The lawyer for Nzirorera proposed to the ICTR to concentrate on cases which will logically end within the allowed time and to postpone those which, like "Karemera et al.", are likely to overflow.

"We do not grant your request to postpone the procedure", indicated Judge Byron.

In addition to Dennis Byron, the chamber includes the judges, Burkinabean Gustave Kam and Dane Vagn Joensen.

Suspended at the beginning of August, the Karemera case restarted again Monday with witness testimonies for the prosecution.

The lawyers questioned the good faith of the prosecutor and asked that he be sanctioned for the late communication of his witness list and for retaining disculpatory information.

"Do you think that it is abnormal that the defence does not have the witness list", complained Diagne Dior, the Senegalese lawyer for the former vice-president of the governing party, Edouard Karemera.

Dior, who indicated "to have supported" for a long time this situation stoically where the witnesses are communicated "to the liking of the mood of the prosecutor", suggested to the chamber "to pay attention to that".

Frederic Weyl (France), the Co-counsel for Matthieu Ngirumpatse, the former president of the governing party, for his part, insisted on the misdeeds of "an extremely malleable witness list".

"I believe that the damage caused to the image of a fair trial is already irremediable" and that it "is important that it is known to history", he declared.

Reminded of his responsibilities, the prosecutor finally indicated that the list of the remaining witnesses included, in particular, the French sociologist André Guichaoua, the American historian Alison Des Forges, the Kenyan graphologist Antipas Nyajua and Binaifer Nowrojee, a Kenyan jurist who works for Human Rights Watch.

Formerly known as "Government I", the Karemera et al. case began on 19 September 2005. The defendants were leaders of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the former party of Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death on 6 April 1994 during an air attack sparked the Tutsi genocide.

Accused of having planned the massacres and other violations of international humanitarian law, the defendants pled not guilty

© Hirondelle News Agency