Arusha,22 August,2008(FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) swung back into action after a month-long judicial mid-year vacation this week with two trials resuming its proceedings, although one of the case-popularly known as Karemera Trial-- had to be adjourned after its brief opening because of an illness of one of the accused persons.

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The undisclosed sickness of Mathieu Ngirumpatse, former President of the then ruling MRND party, who is jointly tried with his two other top party officials, forced the adjournment until Monday when the matter would be discussed in a status conference. The other two accused in the trial are Edouard Karemera, former Vice President of MRND and the party's Secretary General, Joseph Nzirorera. All three have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity.

At the time when the trial was adjourned last month, it was Karemera who was presenting his defence case. Already seven witnesses have testified out of the expected 65.The proceedings started in September 2005, after a first trial was cancelled in the course of the proceedings because of an alleged "appearance of partiality" on the part of a judge. The new trial is presided by Judge Dennis Byron, ICTR president, who has already hinted that the case may spill over to 2009.

The "Butare Trial", largest and logest, resumed with a Professor in economics from Belgium, Stefan Marysse, testifying for the defence of a former Rwandan Mayor, Elie Ndayambaje. The accused began his defence case in May after 13 years in detention.

Ndayamabaje, 50, former Mayor of Muganza commune in southern Rwanda, was arrested on 28 June 1995 in Belgium.

The Belgium professor claimed before the UN court that Ndayambaje was a good person of high integrity. Two other protected witnesses testified partly in a closed session. The case continues on Monday.

Ndayambaje is accused of participating in massacres on Kabuye Hill, where several thousand Tutsis had sought refuge during the 1994 genocide. He has pleaded not guilty.

Started in June 2001, Butare Trial also includes the only woman, former Minister for Family and Women's Development Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son an alleged ex-militia leader Arsene Ntahobali.

The other co-defendants are the former Mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, former Governor Sylvain Nsabimana; and Butare Governor, Alphonse Nteziryayo

Meanwhile, the Registry of ICTR has been given ten days beginning last Monday to appoint a defence counsel for Rwandan lawyer, Leonidas Nshogoza, who has been in detention in Arusha for about six months accused of the contempt of court.

The Chamber in its ruling has reminded the Registry of the accused's right to legal assistance, adding that any delay in the assignment of a lawyer for Nshogoza, a member of the Bar of Kigali "risks compromising the accused's fair trial rights". The judges noted that the Registry did not carry out an earlier order of 24 July, which instructed for appointment of a defence counsel without delay.

Nshogoza, who had surrendered himself to the court in June 2007, was a defence investigator in the trial of former Military Chaplain, Emmanuel Rukundo, which was currently in deliberation before the UN Court. The accused had pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance last February.

The prosecutor alleges that Nshogoza knowingly and deliberately hindered the course of justice and tried to temper with evidence by meeting without authorization prosecution's protected witnesses and making them sign false statements.


© Hirondelle News Agency