26.10.07 - ICTR/KAREMERA - THE ICTR REFUSES TO HEAR EXPERTS FOR THE PROSECUTION

  Arusha, 26 October 2007 (FH) - The chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) handling the trial of three national leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party refused to hear the testimonies of three experts having, however, testified in many other trials at the ICTY, it was learned from a legal source Friday.
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In this case chaired by the president of the tribunal, Judge Dennis Byron, the prosecutor had wished to call to the stand American Alison Des Forges, a historian and human rights activist, French sociologist André Guichoua and Kenyan Binaifer Nowrojee, a specialist in the questions of sexual violence. Des Forges and Nowrojee are researchers at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
 
"The chamber concludes that Alison Des Forges, André Guichoua and Binaifer Nowrojee cannot be allowed as expert-witnesses", in this trial, indicated the judges in a decision Thursday. Far from disputing the qualifications and competences of these academics, the chamber is, however, not persuaded "of the need for admitting these expert testimonies at this stage".
 
The same chamber had already set aside another expert, Rwandan lawyer Charles Ntampaka. This decision will have an effect in reducing the timeframe granted to the prosecution to present its case. It has been presenting its case since September 2005 and must finish by the end of the year. If the chamber grants a similar timeframe to the defence, which it must theoretically do, this trial will not finish before spring 2010.
 
The United Nations Security Council has, however, asked the ICTR to finish its first instance trials by the end of 2008. On Thursday, during a press conference, the spokesperson of the tribunal, Roland Amoussouga, recognized that this trial, which has known many problems, will not be finished by 31 December 2008. Receiving a delegation of diplomats recently, President Byron evoked the end of the first quarter 2009 for the end of the first instance trials. On average six months are necessary for the drafting of the judgments.
 
This case, whose proceedings were cancelled once, involves the former president of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the former vice-president, Edouard Karemera and the former secretary-general of the party, Joseph Nzirorera. Accused of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, they have pleaded not guilty.

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