Arusha, 30 November 2007(FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should conduct four trials in December 2007 and render a judgment. The proceedings will nevertheless adjourn on the 14th because of the legal holidays of the end of the year. A first trial will restart on 14 January.

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The scheduled judgment is that of François Karera, former prefect of rural Kigali; accused of genocide. It will be delivered on 7 December. Karera has pleaded not guilty. Karera, 68, was arrested in Kenya on 20 October 2001. His trial began on 9 January 2006. The judges have been deliberating since 22 November of that year. The former prefect was defended by two Canadian lawyers, Carmelle Marchessault and Steven Kelliher.

The four trials scheduled in December are Butare, Military II, Karemera and Zigiranyirazo. Butare, the oldest trial in progress at the ICTR, is scheduled for the 1st to the 14th, just like Military II and Zigiranyirazo.

The trial of Protais Zigiranyirazo should nevertheless be completed within the scheduled date because there only remains one defence witness who will testify on 3 December. Former prefect of Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda), Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former President Juvénal Habyarimana, has been on trial since 3 October 2005.

The Karemera trial, for its part, will adjourn on 7 December; Judge Byron, who presides the chamber and the tribunal, has to go to New York to present the ICTR assessment a year before the end of its mandate. Karemera, a trial which involves three former officials of the governing party in 1994, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), is for its part still in the prosecution phase. It started in September 2005. The defendants are the former president of the party, Matthieu Ngirumpatse, his vice-president, Edouard Karemera, and his secretary-general, Joseph Nzirorera. The prosecutor is still presenting his case and is confronted with a pugnacious defence; the proceedings will certainly go beyond December 2008.

The Butare case involves six defendants; including the only woman held by the ICTR, the former Minister for the Family and Women's Development Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. Butare started in June 2001. Joseph Kanyabashi, the mayor of Ngoma, is presenting his defence and still has several months to go.

The Military II case, which started in September 2004, involves four officers, including two Chiefs of Staff. They are Generals Augustin Bizimungu (army) and Augustin Ndindiliyimana (gendarmerie). The trial is presently hearing defence witnesses.

© Hirondelle News Agency