Arusha, 20 October, 2008 (FH) - A joint trial of three former leaders of MRND ruling party during the 1994 Rwandan genocide on Monday got stuck once again as one of the accused, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, its former President, was still hospitalized after undergoing three undisclosed operations in two months.

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The accused's sickness has been subject of three consecutive adjournments following the trial's resumption in July 18, 2008. The President of Trial Chamber III, Justice Dennis Byron, was forced to make another adjournment to Thursday when the parties would meet again to get an updated medical report.

Earlier, the accused's French co-defence counsel, Frederic Weyl, informed the Chamber that up to October 8, this year, his client underwent three operations and that he needed a rest.

Weyl requested the Chamber to consider adjourning the proceedings until early January, next year. The Court can not proceed with the hearing because Ngirumpatse has not given his Counsel the right to continue representing him in absentia.

Currently, it was defence of Edouard Karemera, co-accused and former Vice President of MRND, which was testifying.

In his submission, Karemera's co-counsel, Felix Sow from Senegal, complained that the current situation puts his case in a peculiar condition because some of his defence witnesses were anxious to return to their respective homes because of prolonged adjournments. He further claimed that other witnesses in the list were worried about their safety.

Speaking for prosecution, Don Webster, said: "We need to get comprehensive medical report [of accused] for the past three to four months [to evaluate the depth of the sickness]."

All three accused have pleaded not guilty to 1994 genocide and crimes against humanity.

The first trial which started in November 2003 was canceled in May 2004 amid allegations of impartiality by the former presiding judge, compelling the case to restart on September 19, 2005.


© Hirondelle News Agency