Arusha, 29 October 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is considering a separation of proceedings in the current trial of three leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party because of the ill health of Mathieu Ngirumpatse, one of the defendants, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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President of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) during the 1994 genocide, Ngirumpatse is on trial with the former vice-president and secretary-general of the party, Édouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera.

On Tuesday, a status conference was held in closed session concerning the capacity of Mathieu Ngirumpatse to attend the trial.

"Doctor Marie-Françoise Epée-Hernandez, head of the medical department of the Tribunal, who follows the prisoners for all that relates to their health, was heard", according information posted on ICTR website Wednesday.

At its conclusion, in particular the medical incapacity in which will be Ngirumpatse to attend or take part in his trial for at least the next six months, the Chamber considers necessary to consider the disjoinder of proceedings of Édouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera on one side and Mathieu Ngirumpatse on the other", added the text.

From this point of view, the Chamber orders to all the parties- defence teams and prosecution- to file their arguments on a possible disjoinder of proceedings, by 3 November at the latest.

The arguments from both sides will be tabled during a hearing scheduled for 6 November.

If the disjoinder considered by the Chamber comes into effect, it will be the second for these three former leaders accused of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity for which the trial began in September 2005.

A first trial in which they appeared with another person was cancelled by the Appeal Chamber in October 2004 after having started in November 2003. The proceedings were cancelled because of "the appearance of bias" of one of the judges then seized by the case.

Five months later, the Tribunal, at the request of the prosecutor, ordered, for the former leaders of the MRND, the current separate trial which started in September 2005.

This new dead end comes as the first defendant, Karemera, had started to call his witnesses, the prosecutor having rested his case last January.

The defendants have been in detention since June 1998.


© Hirondelle News Agency