Arusha, 4 June 2008 (FH) - The Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has given one of the defendants in the trial of three former top party officials a maximum of 40 days to complete his defence case as part of efforts to accelerate the trial, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The defendant, Edouard Karemera, is the former Vice President of the ruling National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), who is accused of 1994 genocide alongside the former party President Mathieu Ngirumpatse and ex-Secretary General, Joseph Nzirorera. All have pleaded not guilty.

"The Chamber believes that 40 days of hearings, at a rate of six hours per day, should be sufficient for the presentation of the defence case of Karemera", according to the judges decision on Monday. However, the Chamber has said that if justice demanded more time, it was ready to show flexibility.

To determine the 40-day timeframe, the Chamber took into consideration various factors, including the prosecutor's 169 days of hearings for 29 witnesses.

The Chamber also noted certain repetition between the testimonies suggested for Karemera's defence and has urged the defence counsels to proceed only with witnesses which they still really needed.

Suspended since 15 May, the trial is expected to resume on 30 June.

Karemera, first to present his defence case in the trial, already had ten days, (between on 21 April and 15 May), a period during which he called nine witnesses.

Opened in September 2005, the proceedings are before Dennis Byron (presiding), who is also President of the Tribunal. The defendants have been in custody for almost since 10 years.

Judge Byron has already recognized that the proceedings in the case would not be finished by the end of the year, date scheduled by the Security Council to complete all first instance trials.


© Hirondelle News Agency