Arusha, 13 December 2007 (FH) - The trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of six defendants originating from the Butare region suspended its hearings Wednesday because of the illness of a witness and will resume on 21 January.

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During this last hearing of the year, the presiding judge, William Sekule, asked the defence counsels to rest their cases by next July. He also recommended that the evidence of Joseph Kanyabashi be filed by the end of April. The witness who is currently on the stand is the 11th of a list of 30. Kanyabashi's defence started in July 2007.

This trial, which began on 11 June 2001, is the oldest at the ICTR. It involves Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for the Family, her son, Arsène Ntahobali, an alleged militia leader, two former prefects and two former mayors. All have pleaded not guilty. The second to last defendant is presenting his defence case.

The proceedings, had already been interrupted for various reasons, are slowed down considerably by conflicts of interests between the various defendants. They are presided by Judge William Sekule (Tanzania), assisted by Judge Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Solomy Bossa (Uganda). The defence has been presenting its case since 31 January 2005, after the prosecution called 59 witnesses.

© Hirondelle News Agency