Arusha, 27 January 2009 (FH) - The trial of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, which was scheduled to open on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has difficulty starting after the withdrawal of the Cameroonian Judge Florence Rita Arrey.

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After the withdrawal of Mrs Arrey, who was to preside the proceedings, a status conference was to take place Tuesday but the Registry announced that the hearing between the remaining judges and the parties was deferred to Wednesday.

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

Indicted for genocide, complicity to commit genocide, murder and rapes, this officer who commanded the small military camp of Ngoma, in Butare, southern Rwanda in 1994, is accused of having personally directed murderous attacks against ethnic Tutsis and committed rapes.

The uncertainty in which this trial finds itself adds to the difficulties of the ICTR's calendar for this new year which is extremely tight following a directive from the UN Security to complete all first instance trials by end of the year.

A first troublesome incident had already affected the ICTR schedule, the sine die deferral of the beginning of the re-trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi. The trial was originally planned to proceed from 12 to 23 January.

By announcing the adjournment, Judge Dennis Byron, also the president of the ICTR, did not hide that he "was stressed" by this trouble due to the absence of Muvunyi's lawyers.


© Hirondelle News Agency