Arusha, 5 February 2009 (FH) - The Office of Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is still fighting to be able to adduce additional evidence within the framework of the new trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, which is having trouble starting.

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On 29 August, 2008, the Appeals Chamber ordered that Muvunyi be retried for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, linked to an alleged speech which he made in May 1994 at the Commerce Center of Gikore in Butare, southern Rwanda.

The prosecution intends to call six witnesses for the re-trial whereas, at the time of the first trial, only two had testified on that fact.

However, in an oral decision rendered 14 January, the First Instance Chamber ordered the prosecutor to limit himself to only witnesses who had been heard in the first procedure.

At the hearing itself, Charles Adéogun-Philips, from the office of the prosecutor, immediately announced that he was going to appeal.

But, according to the rules of the ICTR, all interlocutory appeals can be filed only with the accord of the Chamber, which rendered the contested decision.

Thus, in a motion filed on 19 January, the prosecution asked for the permission to bring the question before the Appeals Chamber, which the President of the Chamber, Judge Dennis Byron, has just accepted in a decision dated 29 January.

In addition, Judge Byron warned the parties that "the new trial could begin at any moment after the decision from the Appeals Chamber".

A new trial which is so limited by the historical ruling of 28 August 2008, which even in the event of a guilty verdict, Muvunyi could not be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison, the sentence which had received in first instance.

The senior officer, who was based, in 1994, at the School for Non-Commissioned Officers of Butare (ESO), was found guilty on 12 September 2006, of "genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and other inhuman acts".

All these guilty verdicts were cancelled by the appeal judges who ordered a new trial bearing on a single fact and a single count of the indictment.


© Hirondelle News Agency