Arusha, 20 February, 2009 (FH) - The Prosecution has requested to separate proceedings in trial of three former leaders of National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) party, following the prolonged illness of one of the accused, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who has been hospitalized for several months now in Nairobi, Kenya.

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During a status conference on Monday, Trial Attorney Don Webster indicated that a separate trial for Ngirumpatse (former MRND President) from Edouard Karemera (MRND Vice President) and Joseph Nzirorera (MRND Secretary General) was the only way to move forward the trial

Being astonished by this reversal, all the defence counsels asked the Chamber to suspend the trial for an additional three months. The Chamber will make its ruling soon.

Meanwhile, a former officer of the Rwandan gendarmerie, Lieutenant Colonel Jean Marie Vianney Nzapfakumunsi, now a naturalized French citizen, affirmed Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the force for which was employed  failed to maintain law and order after 6 April 1994, when genocide started.

According to him, the tactical situation could not permit arrest of the notorious Interahamwe militiamen, who led the attacks. The Officer was in charge of operations at the Kacyiru Gendermarie Camp in Kigali in 1994.

Nzapfakumunsi came to defend, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of Staff of Gendarmerie, who is on trial alongside three other officers of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), including the former Chief of Staff of Army, General Augustin Bizimungu.

The hearings were officially closed since December but the Chamber ordered for testimony of ten recalled or additional witnesses following a motion from the defence that the prosecution did not communicate some important elements of the trial, which were important in the case.

The 13th prosecution witness in the genocide case against the former Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako, told the ICTR judges at the resumption of the trial Monday that the accused ordered the population in a public meeting to expose Tutsis and kill them as they were allegedly the enemy of the nation.

In another development, the trial of contempt of court by a Rwandan lawyer, Leonidas Nshogoza, continued this week.

A prosecution witness code-named "GAA" to protect his identity, claimed that he stated complete lies when he was interrogated by the Rwandan and Tribunal investigators between 2005 and 2007.

The witness was the fifth and last prosecution witness.

Nshogoza is accused to have tried to bribe "GAA" to pervert course of justice during the trial of a former Rwandan Education and Culture Minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, who was handed imprisonment for remainder of his life in 2004 and confirmed by the UN Appeals Court in September 2005.The defence is scheduled to start its case on March 6.

GAA was found of contempt of court in 2007 and was imprisoned for nine months.


© Hirondelle News Agency