Arusha, 4 December 2008 (FH) - The trial of Callixte Kalimanzira, a former official of the Rwandan ministry of the interior, accused of genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was suspended Thursday until 26 January 2009, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Kalimanzira, an agronomist by training, directed in April and May 1994 the ministry of the interior. The minister, which he was his cabinet director, did not returned to Rwanda after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994.

The proceedings were deferred after the testimony of 24 defence witnesses heard since the start of the defence case on 17 November.

According to Arthur Vercken, Kalimanzira's main counsel, 29 witnesses, including the defendant himself, are awaited for the next session which will last until 5 February 2009. The French lawyer does not exclude, however, the possibility to renounce some of them.

Kalimanzira's defence proved during the session, which is coming to an end, that it was able to call an average of 4 witnesses per day, which constitutes an exception for the ICTR.

According to Vercken, his witnesses "get right to the point" and refute what he called, in his opening statement, "a multitude of 53 micro charges distributed on nearly 3 months in 5 large communes of Rwanda".

Without scheduling a final date, the Chamber presided by Judge Dennis Byron requested from the parties to file their written conclusions in the three weeks following the resting of the defence case so that the closing arguments can be heard in the next week.

Vercken and his team announced their difficulty to respect these deadlines, seeing that they have other engagements in their firms; but the Chamber ensured that a justified adjustment was not to be excluded.

The trial opened on 5 May. Kalimanzira, who has pleaded not guilty, is prosecuted for genocide, complicity to genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

The prosecutor rested his case on 30 June after having called 24 witnesses in 16 days of hearings.

The most serious accusations carried against Kalimanzira relate to the role which he would have played in the massacre of thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge on Kabuye Hill, in the sub-prefecture of Gisagara (Butare prefecture,) towards the end of April 1994. Committed by soldiers, Interahamwe militiamen and Burundian refugees, the Kabuye massacres lasted several days, according to the prosecution.

In the Butare prefecture, the genocide started only towards the end of April 1994 after a public meeting in which several members of the interim government took part, including President Théodore Sindikubwabo and Prime Minister Jean Kambanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency