Kigali, 06 October, 2008 (FH) - Judges of Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday started their week-long visit of the alleged massacre sites in Rwanda committed by four accused former Rwandan ministers jointly tried for 1994 genocide and crimes against humanity in a case known as "Government II".

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President of the Trial Chamber, Khalida Khan (Pakistan) and her two colleagues, Judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Francis Shorts (Ghana), prosecution and defence teams spent around one-and- half hours driving through small and overcrowded roads in Kigali city to visit the sites.

The defendants in this case are, Casimir Bizimungu, former Minister for Health, Justin Mugenzi, former Minister for Commerce, Prosper Mugiraneza, former Minister for Civil Service and Jerome Bicamumpaka, former minister for Foreign Affairs. All have pleaded not guilty.

The judges and the parties in a six-UN convoy witnessed the building that housed the office of the former minister of Health, now utilised as the office of the National Commissions of Aids. Other sites visited were: the former Hotel des Diplomats (now Kigali Serena Hotel) and the former French Embassy building in Kigali.

The visit to Kigali Central Hospital (KCH) was put off to Tuesday as it was reported that the tour coincided with another function. The entourage will also visit Tuesday Kabuga and Kibungo. A total of 23 sites are scheduled to be visited.

The tour is expected to help clear some differences emanating from the testimonies of some witnesses and the parties about the right locations and distances mentioned during the proceedings in Arusha, Tanzania, which is hosting the UN Court.

The defence closed its case on June 12, 2008 after calling 114 witnesses whereas the prosecution summoned 57 witnesses .The hearing of the case started in November, 2003.

According to the United Nations report, an estimated 800, 000 people were killed during April-July, 1994, most of whom were Tutsis and moderate Hutus.


© Hirondelle News Agency