Arusha, 6 May 2008 (FH) - A defence witness in the trial of three former politicians accused the prosecuting attorney of male chauvinism Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Protected by the pseudonym "XQL", a former Rwandan senior civil servant and official of the presidential party MRND was asked whether she was a former fiancee to Juvenal Habyarimana, the former Head of State. The question asked by the prosecuting attorney Laian Morley (Ireland) caused uproar in the court room and was regarded as "scandalous" by all defence teams.

"I call these chauvinistic manoeuvres", answered the witness, very upset, explaining that it is sad to think that a woman cannot reach a position of responsibility without her charms. She explained why in her double capacity of sociologist and secondary and higher education professor, it was not astonishing that she exerted important functions in her country.

XQL came to testify in favour of Edouard Karemera, former vice-president of the MRND presidential party, one of the defendants in the trial which started in September 2005. His lawyer, Diagne Dior, said that she was "scandalized". She regretted that the prosecutor lacked respect in regard to this "respectable and dignified lady" by making her a "fiancée to a man who is no longer in this world".

Juvenal Habyarimana was killed during an attack against his plane on 6 April 1994. This attack was used as a detonator for the genocide of Tutsis.

Noting that the attorney was not backing down, Karemera's co-counsel, Felix Sow, added his voice by saying: "I think that enough is enough, this is persecution and zeal".

Karemera is accused alongside Joseph Nzirorera and Mathieu Ngirumpatse, secretary-general and president respectively of the former presidential party.

Nzirorera's co-counsel, Patrick Nimy, invited the Chamber to regard "the unfortunate comments of Mr Morley as contempt of the court".


© Hirondelle News Agency