Arusha, 2 September 2008 (FH) - The defence of former Rwandan senior Army Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako, Tuesday bitterly complained prosecution's fielding of a witness who gave testimony which had no link to their client before the International Criminal - Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), trying key suspects of the 1994 genocide.    

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American Lead Counsel, Professor Lennox Hinds, told the Trial Chamber shortly before he started cross-examination of second prosecution witness, identified only as "SQG "to protect his identity, that the witness gave evidence which was completely irrelevant to the accusations leveled against the defendant  since Monday.

The witness, former interahamwe militia who had already been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in Rwanda for his role in the genocide, narrated to the Chamber that he with other interahamwe actively participated in the killings of ethnic Tutsis at Byangabo market and Busogo Parish in Mukingo Commune and at Rwankeri area in Nkuli Commune, in Ruhengeri Prefecture.  

The Counsel previously drew the attention of the Chamber, twice on the very same issue, when the witness was being led in  Examination in-Chief by Prosecuting Counsel Ifeoma Ojemini-Okali, warning that the kind of evidence that was adduced by the witness had no link with the accused.

"The attempt here is to link serious crimes committed by others to the accused," lamented Prof. Hinds, adding that "there is no evidence so far this witness linking the accused with the 1994 alleged crimes."

The Counsel asked the Chamber to guide the prosecution over witnesses who would give relevant testimony and instead of unnecessarily wasting the court's precious time.

Responding, Mrs Okali, however, disagreed with the defence and instead urged them to raise their concern during the closing arguments.

Presiding Judge Eric Mose ruled that the bench could not prevent the prosecution to present its case the way it considered right, but asked the prosecution to note defence observation.

Witness SQG has already testified in other case at the ICTR including that of General Augustin Bizimungu under the pseudonym "GFC".

Later, Prof. Hinds resumed his cross examination. The prosecution expects to call to the stand 25 witnesses to support its case.

Lt. Col Setako is facing six charges including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He has denied the charges and the hearing continues Wednesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency