Arusha, 4 December 2007 (FH) - The closing arguments were scheduled for May 2008 in the trial of Protais Zigiranyirazo, called Mr. Z, a brother-in-law of the former President Juvénal Habyarimana, accused of genocide before the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR).

1 min 1Approximate reading time

The parties will expose their arguments between 26 and 30 May 2008.

Arrested in Belgium in July 2001, Zigiranyirazo, 69, has been on trial since 3 October 2005. He has pleaded not guilty.

On Tuesday, he called his last defence witness. Zigiranyirazo called forty-one witnesses compared to twenty-four for the prosecution.

The prosecution theory was that the genocide was planned by the akazu (small house in Kinyarwanda), a circle composed of close relations of the former president, including Mr. Z. The defence pled that the concept of akazu was an invention by opponents with the aim of discrediting the Habyarimana regime.

Protais Zigiranyirazo was a prefect in Kibuye (western Rwanda) and Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) between 1974 and 1989. He then became a businessman. The prosecution alleges that although he was not a formal part of the central administration for several years, Zigiranyirazo exerted an influence on senior officials and army officers until 1994 because of his bonds with the presidential family. Witnesses on the workings of the Rwandan administration came to say that it was ridiculous.

Zigiranyirazo appeared before a chamber presided by Judge Inés Monica de Roca (Argentina), assisted by Khalida Rachid Khan (Pakistan) and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga (Kenya).

The chamber went to Rwanda in November to visit the areas mentioned in the indictment. The crimes alleged to Zigiranyirazo were committed in Kigali and his native area of Gisenyi (north-western Rwanda).

© Hirondelle News Agency