Arusha, 28 October 2008 (FH) - Joseph Nzirorera, a former Rwandan politician on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was requested to reduce from 180 to 55 the number of witnesses who he will call, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The Secretary-General, in 1994, of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), Nzirorera is on trial for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity with two other former leaders of the party in a trial paralyzed for more than two months by the health of one of them.

In a decision posted on the website of the Tribunal, the Chamber considered plethoric the number of witnesses announced by Peter Robinson, Nzirorera's main counsel. The American lawyer has until 7 November to file his new witness list.

The judges estimated that with the precise details provided by the American lawyer, the current list counts, in several cases, too many witnesses for the same fact. The Chamber reminded that the prosecutor, to whom falls the burden of proof, only called 29 witnesses.

Nzirorera's defence can appeal this decision.

Robinson had presented on 8 September a list of 227 witnesses, explaining that only 180 would come to the stand, while for the others, they would file their statements.

Nzirorera and his two co-defendants, former president and vice-president of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, are in particular accused of conspiracy in order to commit genocide.

Their trial has been at a dead end for two months because of Ngirumpatse's health. The proceedings should resume on 18 August after the legal holidays, but there has not been a hearing per se since then.

This situation adds to the vicissitudes of this trial which advances slowly in spite of a series of measure taken by the Chamber. This case, known as "Karemera Triall.", started in September 2005. The prosecutor rested his case on 25 January. A first trial in which the three leaders of the MRND were prosecuted with another person was cancelled after more than a year of proceedings.


© Hirondelle News Agency