12.02.08 - ICTR/GOVERNMENT II - FORMER RWANDAN MINISTER MUGIRANEZA BEGINS HIS DEFENCE CASE NEXT WEEK

Arusha, 12 February 2008 (FH) - The former Rwandan Minister for the Civil Service, Prosper Mugiraneza, accused of 1994 genocide, will begin to present his defence case next week before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, it was learned Tuesday.
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Mugiraneza, 50, is on trial alongside three of his colleagues of the interim government in place between April and July 1994.

He will be the last defendant to call witnesses for the defence in the trial known as "Government II" which began on 6 November 2003, reports Hirondelle Agency.

His lawyer, American Tom Moran, disclosed that the first four witnesses would arrive in Arusha on Monday afternoon and that they should logically begin to testify the following day.

Mugiraneza's co-defendants are the former Minister of Health, Casimir Bizimungu, Minister for Trade Justin Mugenzi and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jerome Bicamumpaka.

On Tuesday, Bicamumpaka suspended the presentation of his witnesses to allow others on the list to testify.

Among them figures the former Ambassador of Belgium to Rwanda, Johann Swinnen, currently representative of the Kingdom of Belgium to the DRC.

"We are waiting for the Belgian authorities to report back to us on this witness", stated Philippe La Rochelle (Canada), one of Bicamumpaka's lawyers.

Bicamumpaka also has on his list a former prosecution witness who has retracted.

Willem Albert Wagenaar, a psychologist, testified on Tuesday.

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© Hirondelle News Agency