Arusha, 25 February 2009 (FH) - The trial of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, which failed to start on 26 January following the withdrawal of one of the judges, may open in mid-March before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

0 min 53Approximate reading time

The ICTR spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga, told Wednesday Hirondelle Agency that the replacement procedure was on course as the opening of the trial was scheduled for 16 March.

The Cameroonian Florence Rita Arrey announced her withdrawal, the very same day that the trial was to begin, after realizing eleventh hour that she had already decided, within the framework of another trial, on Hategekimana's actions in 1994.

Accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, murder and rapes, this officer who commanded the small military camp of Ngoma, in Butare (southern Rwanda) in 1994, is notably accused of having personally directed murderous attacks against Tutsis and committed rapes.

However, in another case, that of Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, the first Instance Chamber which Mrs Arrey was part of, had already concluded on Hategekimana's responsibility in an attack against a nuns' residence.

Certain facts accused against these two officers, whom the prosecutor had initially thought of having tried in a joint trial, are similar.

A native of Mugina, in the former prefecture of Gitarama (central Rwanda), Hategekimana, who has pleaded not guilty, is part of the 5 accused that the prosecutor of the ICTR, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, sought, in vain, to have tried by the Rwandan courts.