Montreal, 8 October 2008 (FH) - The genocide trial of 42-year-old Rwandan refugee, Desire Munyaneza will next Monday enter closing arguments phase , reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The decision was jointly reached by lawyers of the Crown (prosecution), defence and presiding Judge Andre Denis.

Munyaneza is accused of having participated in the Rwandan 1994 genocide, which according to UN estimates claimed lives of about 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

During a meeting Tuesday at the Montreal Courthouse, they decided that lawyers of Munyaneza and Crown (prosecution) will have submitted written arguments by 12 December. The oral presentation was scheduled for 17 to 19 December. The judgment then will go into deliberation, for at least three or four months, according to observers.

Judge Denis, the only person to decide the verdict (as opposed to three-bench judges for each ICTR trial), will have to go through 17, 000 pages of transcripts which have been compiled.

"What awaits Judge Denis is considerable", Paul-Alexis Gauthier, one of the Crown lawyers, told Hirondelle Agency.

In all, 66 witnesses (30 called by prosecution, 36 by defence) were heard during the trial, the first to be held in Canada under a law on crimes against humanity and war crimes introduced in October 2000.

"It has proved that this type of trial is feasible, taking into account all the difficulties which were encountered. In particular, to have to testify witnesses residing in Africa for a trial which was held in Canada," Mr Gauthier said.

Richard Perras, one of Munyaneza's three lawyers, said that his client was going to take part as much as possible in the preparation of the written arguments.

Accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, rape and looting, Munyaneza faces life in prison, which is a minimum of 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

A son of a rich businessman from Butare, southern Rwanda, Munyaneza has been imprisoned since his arrest in the suburbs of Toronto three years ago. He arrived in Canada in 1997 with a false Cameroonian passport.

The trial opened in January 2007 but the testimonies only started in March the same year.


© Hirondelle News Agency