Arusha, 16 January 2009 (FH) - The re-trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, which was scheduled to start this week, ran into unexpected problem when the lawyers for the defendant failed to appear in court on grounds that they have other commitments.

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This forced the presiding judge, Sir Dennis Byron, to postpone it  sine die but not without ordering the Registry, the court's administrative body, to impose necessary sanctions against the lawyers, qualifying their behaviour as a clear demonstration of a lack of respect toward the Chamber.

Muvunyi is defended by the Americans William Taylor and Abbe Jolles.

Muvunyi, who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison in first instance trial, will be retried for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, relative to a speech which he would have made in May 1994 at the commerce center of Gikore, in the former prefecture of Butare, southern Rwanda.

After this sine die postponement, the courtrooms will only reopen on 26 January with the beginning of the trial of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and the recovery of that of the former cabinet director of the ministry of the interior, Callixte Kalimanzira.

In another development, about 340 posts which were slated for abolition by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) between January and July this year have now been shelved  following the recent decision by the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the Tribunal for the first instance  trials to end of 2009.

Addressing the general staff meeting Wednesday, the Registrar of the Tribunal, Adama Dieng said the posts will have to be administratively changed to GTA (General Temporary Assignments) as of 1 January, 2009 and stretch up to September this year.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Justice Hassan Jallow, has appealed against the 15 years jail sentence handed down last month to Rwanda's former famous composer and singer, Simon Bikindi, for his role to incite killings of ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

"The sentence is inadequate against crimes committed by the accused," Justice Jallow told Hirondelle Agency Tuesday, adding that in the prosecution's opinion, Bikindi deserved a much higher imprisonment.

This week the Prosecution has requested for an extension of time limit to apply for an appeal in the acquittal of General Gratien Kabiligi, former Head of the Military Operations Bureau (G-3) of the Ex-FAR during the 1994 Genocide against ethnic Tutsis.

The 30-day deadline expires on Sunday.

The extension follows delay in filing the full judgement of the trial, referred as "Military 1", which was delivered on 18 December, 2008.

"We have requested for an extension of time limit for an appeal because we have not yet received the full judgement," Justice Hassan Jallow, said.

 "We have to read the judgement in full to make our position," added Justice Jallow.

The Court has yet to be make a ruling over the request.

General Kabiligi was acquitted in the joint trial of three other top former Rwandan army officers, including the alleged master-mind of 1994 genocide Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who was then Director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence.


© Hirondelle News Agency