Arusha, 29 August, 2008 (FH) - The trial of a former high ranking official of than Rwandan ministry of defence, Lieutenant-Colonel Ephrem Setako, accused of genocide, opened Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The week also saw continuation of the Butare Trial and the Appeals Court hearing one appeal of former Kigali Rural Governor Francois Karera and delivering a judgement in the appeal of former Commander of Ecole Sous-Officers (ESO) College, Tharcisse Muvunyi.

"The defendant took an active part in the genocide... He was one of the main planners and executors of the genocide in his native region of Ruhengeri and in Kigali '', the trial attorney Ifeoma Ojemini-Okali claimed in her opening statement. 25 witnesses are expected to be lined up by the prosecution in the case.

The lead defence counsel, American Lennox Hinds, pointed out to the Chamber that his client was never accused in Kigali or in Ruhengeri during trials before the Rwandan semi-traditional courts charged with trying the majority of the alleged leaders of the genocide.

In Butare Trial, genocide accused former militia leader, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, 38, has asked for termination of legal proceedings against him because of unreasonable delays to try him before ICTR.

Ntahobali who has been on trial with his mother, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister during the 1994 genocide, and four other high ranking government officials originating from the Butare region, for more than seven years, has complained in his motion filed last Friday about "exorbitant and unreasonable delays, which are the fault of the prosecutor, the ICTR in general, as well as the United Nations and are not at all justified

Meanwhile, in another trial involving three Rwandan senior former then ruling MRND party leaders in 1994 was on Monday adjourned for the third time in seven days since its resumption as one of the accused, its ex-president, Mathieu Ngirumpatse,69, was reportedly still sick and was undergoing treatment.

Presiding Judge Dennis Byron postponed the trial to September 15, 2008 when parties would meet for a Status Conference to asses the situation.

Ngirumpatse has instructed his defence team not to represent him in the case in his absence.

In the Appeals Court, Karera claimed his innocence during the 1994 genocide and urged the highest UN Court to set him free.In the Muvunyi's appeal, the Chamber quashed a 25-year-old sentence imposed by the lower court but ordered a partial re-trial of one count.


© Hirondelle News Agency