17.12.07 - CANADA/RWANDA - LACK OF CLEAR DETAILS BOG DOWN MUNYANEZA TRIAL

Montreal, 17 December 2007 (FH) - Uncertainty looms over the case of Desire Munyaneza, a Rwandan on trial in Canada, accused of crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in his native country in 1994, according to Hirondelle sources.
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In less than a month since the beginning of the investigations, many pertinent details are unclear which is worrying the defence.

Munyaneza, 41, has become the first person to be charged under Canada's new Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act. He was arrested in 2005 in Toronto.

These Canadian investigations must be conducted in France between 15 and 24 January, but André Denis, the presiding judge, does not yet know where exactly.

The Judge on Friday 14 December held discussion with his French counterpart in charge of the affair, but did not bring out details awaited by the defence.

"The deadline is approaching nearer and we need to know details,'' stressed Richard Perras, a defence counsel of the accused. Munyaneza is defended by a team of three lawyers. Perras also wanted to know the accused's hotel reservation and transport arrangements among others.

The three witnesses to be called by the defence are expected to be heard either in Paris or in the Lyon area (eastern France). Their testimonies will add up to that to be given by the sister of the accused and by another person (whose identity is protected) from 7 to 10 January in Montreal.

If Munyaneza is found guilty, he faces life in prison. The defence would also wish to call a Rwandan residing in Belgium, but this person was encountering difficulties to leave Belgium.

Munyaneza having only Canadian $ 40,000 (21 million Rwandan francs) to assume his defence expenses, Ottawa committed itself before the beginning of the trial to give him financial assistance. Initially the cost was estimated at Canadian $ 600 000 (315, 5 million Rwandan francs) but the defence has already spent Canadian $ 1, 4 million. The federal service charged with funding the affair allegedly has been, for some time, reluctant to grant new funds, lamented Perras to the Hirondelle Agency.

But Judge Denis has warned that he will not hesitate to issue orders to remind the federal government of its obligations to continue assisting the accused.

SC
© Hirondelle News Agency