Arusha, 26 January 2009 (FH) - The Cameroonian Judge Florence Rita Arrey announced Monday her withdrawal from the trial of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, which was to start the same day before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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"I decided to withdraw myself", judge Arrey told Hirondelle Agency.

Following the decision, the opening of the trial was delayed until Tuesday.

Mrs Arrey, who was to sit in the case with Tanzanian Joseph Masanche and Madagascan Richard Mparany Rajohnson, explained that she had had, within the framework of the trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, to come to a conclusion about some of the facts of the Hategekimana case.

At the beginning, the two officers were to be prosecuted with a third person who is still at large, Lieutenant Ildephonse Nizeyimana, in an indictment dated from 2000.

All three were based in 1994 in Butare, southern Rwanda, where Hategekimana commanded the small military camp of Ngoma while Nizeyimana and Muvunyi taught at the School for Non-Commissioned Officers (ESO).

After the disjoinder of proceedings, Muvunyi, presented by the prosecutor as the immediate hierarchically superior of two lieutenants, was tried alone and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Appeals Chamber, however, cancelled Muvunyi's guilty verdict as well as the sentence and ordered a new trial.

In the first judgment, the Chamber, which included Judge Arrey, had concluded on the responsibility of Hategekimana in an attack at the end of April 1994 against the convent of the Benebikira nuns of Ngoma, while indicating that there was no evidence that the attack on the nuns was ordered by Muvunyi.

However, the attack was today at the middle of the Hategekimana's case, prosecuted for genocide, complicity to commit genocide, murder and rapes.

A native of Mugina, in the former prefecture of Gitarama ,central Rwanda), this officer, who has pleaded not guilty, was part of the five accused that the prosecutor of the ICTR, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, had sought, in vain, to have tried by Rwandan courts.

He was arrested in Congo on 16 February 2003 and was transferred 3 days later to the detention centre of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.


© Hirondelle News Agency