25.01.08 - ICTR /WEEKLY SUMMARY - CLOSING ARGUMENTS PRESENTED IN FORMER DEPUTY PROSECUTOR'S TRIAL

Arusha, 25 January 2008 (FH) - The prosecution and defence presented their closing arguments this week in the trial of Simeon Nshamihigo, a former Rwandan Deputy Prosecutor accused 1994 genocide.
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On Wednesday, the prosecution requested life imprisonment for defendant while the defence pled for an acquittal before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The presiding judge Dennis Byron from Saint-Kitts and Nevis said the judgement date would be communicated to all concerned parties.

Nshamihigo, 48, was on trial since 25 September 2006. The prosecution accuses him of having organized massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu, in south-western Rwanda, his native region.

He has pleaded not guilty. At the end of the proceedings, the defendant showed remorse over the 1994 tragic killings.

Nshamihigo is defended by two Canadian lawyers, Denis Turcotte and Me Henry Benoit. The prosecution team was headed by the Ivorian Alphonse Van.

The UN Court also held proceedings in the Military II, Butare and Nsengimana trials.

The Military II trial involves four former officers, including two former chiefs of staff.

General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former chief of staff of the Rwandan gendarmerie during the genocide, who continued his defence this week. About sixty defence witnesses are expected to testify for him.

Three witnesses, including Colonel Luc Marchal, a retired Belgian Colonel and former Deputy Commander of UN Forces in Rwanda, have already testified since last week.

Ndindiliyimana is on trial alongside the former chief of staff of the army, General Augustin Bizimungu and two senior officers of former Rwandan army. Bizimungu has already called his witnesses. The trial began on 20 September 2004.

The Butare case, the oldest trial in progress at the ICTR, started in June 2001. Six defendants from the south of Rwanda, including a woman, are on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Currently, the fifth defendant is presenting his defence case before the court. The chamber has suggested that the defence testimonies end at least by July.

The trial of Hormidas Nsengimana, a catholic priest, who headed the prestigious College of Christ the King in Nyanza, in southern Rwanda, was also underway this week. The trial started in June 2007.

The prosecution continued to present its witnesses and one of them claimed that Nsengimana had directed death squadron in Nyanza and in its surroundings. The priest has pleaded not guilty.

The atmosphere tensed up a little Thursday when the prosecution tried to ban a member of Nsengimana's defence team from entering the courtroom.

A-day-before, the prosecuting attorney was astonished to see that an investigator - a Rwandan that a witness has accused of having contacted him -- was in the courtroom besides the lawyers and defendant.

The registry was asked to investigate these allegations and to submit a report to the chamber.

Next week will resume the Government II trial which involves four former ministers. It was adjourned on 8 November.

Jerome Bicamumpaka, former minister of foreign affairs, will resume to call his witnesses. A Belgian diplomat, Jean Ghist, is expected to testify for the former Rwandan top diplomat.

The judges will also hear the closing arguments in the trial of Emmanuel Rukundo, another catholic priest accused of genocide, between 31 January and 1 February.

AT/PB/MM/SC
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