11.02.08 - ICTR/KAREMERA - EX-MRND BOSS URGES UN JUDGES TO DISQUALIFY FROM HIS TRIAL

Arusha, 11 February 2008 (FH)-The former Secretary General of the pro-Hutu National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), Joseph Nzirorera, has urged three bench-UN judges to disqualify themselves from proceedings of his joint trial with two other top party officials, accusing them of bias.
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"Nzirorera respectfully moves that the judges voluntarily disqualify themselves from his case because of biasness,'' read a motion filed last Friday by the accused's defence. The trial is before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"Should the members of the trial chamber decline to disqualify themselves, Mr Nzirorera requests that the matter be referred to the bureau of the ICTR, an authority which includes the president and the vice-president of the tribunal as well as the presidents of the first instance chambers," it added further.

The motion also targets Judge Dennis Byron, who is the President of the ICTR and is part of the trial bench.

Nzirorera's lead counsel, Peter Robinson, claims that the judges had also hidden from him secret motion from the prosecutor which was claiming that the defence was intimidating prosecution witnesses.

Other motions stated that the defence team was source of disclosure of protected witnesses' identities thus putting them (witnesses) at risk.

‘'The refusal by the chamber to reveal these allegations show the biasness of the judges'' claimed Robinson adding that no reasonable person could believe that Mr Nzirorera can or would receive a fair trial under
these circumstances.

Nzirorera is on trial alongside the former president of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and the former vice president, Edouard Karemera.

Opened in September 2005, the trial is among crucial at the ICTR. The prosecution rested its case last December.

Nzirorera intends to call at least 180 witnesses, which is about seven times more than the prosecution's list, who called 25.

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