Arusha, 5 October 2007 (FH) - Five trials were in progress this week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR):    

2 min 13Approximate reading time

They were the Butare trial, an area in southern Rwanda where six natives, including a woman, are jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity; Gouvernment II, which involves four former ministers of the interim government in place during the 1994genocide of Tutsis; Karemera et al., which involves three leaders of the former governing party; as well as two individual trials, that of the musician Simon Bikindi and Abbot Emmanuel Rukundo.
In Butare, which is henceforth suspended until 22 October, the tribunal ended the testimony of Belgian Professor Filip Reyntjens, who testified in behalf of the former mayor of Ngoma, Joseph Kanyabashi.
An Expert often used by the prosecutor, Reyntjens ended his involvement with the prosecutor; accusing him of not having prosecuted elements of the former Rwandan rebellion suspected of war crimes committed in 1994.
According to Reyntjens, "Kanyabashi could not be associated in the planning of the genocide in Rwanda and particularly in Butare ".
The Belgian professor explained, nevertheless, "that seeing the situation as it developed in Butare, from April 19 (1994) at the latest, and of the reality of physical control in the commune (Ngoma), it would have been impossible for Kanyabashi to be oppose in an effective and visible manner the forces engaged in the genocide. Not only did he not have the physical means, but he would have paid with his life any inclination in this direction ".
Kanyabashi and his defence affirm that the Ngoma commune had been "subdued" by soldiers during the genocide.
The Butare trial has been in progress since June 2001.Kanyabashi is the second to last defendant to present his case.
In "Government II", in progress since November 2003, it is the third of the four co-defendants who is presenting his defence; Jerome Bicamumpaka, foreign minister. His defence strategy is that he spent most of his time negotiating peace and that he had been by no means implicated in domestic politics.
Bicamumpaka is being tried alongside Casimir Bizimungu, former minister of health, Justin Mugenzi, former minister of commerce, and Prosper Mugiraneza, who was in charge of the civil service. It is Mugiraneza who will call his defence witnesses in last.
In the Karemera et al. trial, it is the prosecutor who is still calling witnesses. The one that testified this week accused Edouard Karemera, the former vice-president of the former governing party, of having directed attacks against Tutsis in the region of Bisesero, in the west of the country.
The defence questioned the credibility of this witness who, has he said, changes statements according to the trial. He had testified previously on the same events in another case and had provided a different version.
In the Bikindi trial, a renowned musician accused of inciting the Tutsi genocide, the tribunal, in particular, heard this week one of the two wives of the defendant.
Angeline Mukabanana, a Tutsi, stated that she had been imprisoned on several occasions in Rwanda for having, in particular, refused to testify against her husband.
In the Rukundo trial, a military chaplain, the defendant started to testify Friday in his own defence. His trial began in November 2006. He rejects the allegations of extremism and participation in the massacres and removals of Tutsis.
Next week, four trials will continue: Bikindi, Rukundo, Government II and Karemera.
© Hirondelle News Agency