29.02.08 - ICTR/MUGENZI - EX-RWANDAN MINISTER WANTS HIS CASE RE-OPENED

Arusha, 29 February 2008 (FH) - The former Rwandan Commerce Minister, Justin Mugenzi, accused of 1994 genocide, has filed a motion before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) seeking to re-open his defence case on grounds that the prosecution concealed some important documents which could have an effect on the trial's outcome.
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The accused argues in his motion that the Prosecutor disclosed to his [Mugenzi's] representative four contents on 18 February which constitute materials which may suggest the innocence or mitigate his guilt. He filed the motion on February 25 through his lead counsel Ben Gumpert.

The statements indicate, he claimed, to have been recorded in 2002-- a year or more before the commencement of the trial in November 2003.

Mugenzi is jointly tried with his other three former ministers Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Jerome Bicamumpaka (Foreign) and Prosper Mugiraneza (Civil Service). They all have pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Currently the last defendant Mugiraneza is presenting his defence witnesses.

"There has been significant breach of the Prosecutor's obligation of disclosure under Rule 68(A),'' the motion reads in part, adding: Had the statements been disclosed when they should have been, at or before the commencement of the trial, the defence would have had availed to them significant material to use in cross examination of the prosecution witnesses.

It is further stated that early disclosure would have helped to call the makers of the statements as witnesses to give their evidence.

"For three of the four defence teams that opportunity has been lost because they have closed the presentatation of defence evidence,'' according to the motion.

The four witnesses who made satements, he says, should be allowed to testify to consolidate the defence's line of arguments, such as that the government did not have the power to control or even effectively monitor events during the genocide or massacres committed by the interim government's opponents, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

The motion adds that the recent publication of indictment and arrest warrant issued by Spanish Judge for some 40 members of RPF fortifies defence submissions.

"The chamber should order the prosecutor to make a proper search of all of the material held in his possession, including materials gathered during investigations into the possible commission of offences by the RPF'', claimed Gumpert.

Tim Gallimore, spokesman of Prosecutor, confirmed to Hirondelle that the motion has been filed, adding that it will be dealt with in a normal process just like other motions. ‘'Yes, the motion has been filed and will be handled like any other motions,'' he stressed.

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