Arusha, 16 February 2009 (FH) - Whereas the hearings have been officially closed since December in the "Military II" trial, a special session devoted to the testimony of ten recalled or additional witnesses began Monday, reports  Hirondelle Agency.

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The majority of these witnesses will testify at the request of the former head of the gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana.

Recalled to the stand Monday, the first of them, known by code name FAV, had testified before the Chamber in September 2004.

Christopher Black, Ndindiliyimana's main counsel, brought to his attention a written statement collected by the office of the prosecutor in 2000 from Joseph Hategekimana, a former worker of the general.

In this statement, Hategekimana speaks well about many gendarmes who kept Ndindiliyimana's residence, in his native commune of Nyaruhengeri (southern Rwanda), whereas FAV supports that they went to kill people and to plunder their goods during the genocide.

"Hategekimana lied to the ICTR investigators", affirmed FAV on Monday, maintaining these charges against the men of General Ndindiliyimana.

These testimonies come to repair the wrong caused to the general by the prosecutor who had hidden evidence from him that the Chamber found useful for the defence.

This violation of the procedure led the prosecutor to be reprimanded by the judges in their decision from 22 September 2008; which they, in addition, authorized Ndindiliyimana to reopen his defence case, by taking into account the elements lately communicated by the prosecuted.

On 6 October, the defence team of the general had, thus, filed a motion aiming at recalling 20 prosecution witnesses as well as the testimony of 12 new defence witnesses. After deliberation, the Chamber agreed to recall four prosecution witnesses so that they are submitted to an additional cross-examination by lawyers of the former head of the gendarmerie.

Ndindiliyimana is on trial alongside three other officers of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), including the former chief of staff of the army, General Augustin Bizimungu.

Accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, they have all claimed their innocence.

Officially, the testimonies of the witnesses have been over since 4 December. The closing arguments are scheduled for June 2009, after a trip to Rwanda in April.

The trial opened in September 2004.


© Hirondelle News Agency