Arusha, 9 March 2009 (FH) - The closing arguments in the oldest trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) involving six genocide accused from Butare prefecture, South Rwanda will be heard from 20 to 30 April, 2009, Hirondelle News Agency learned on Monday.

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The accused in this trial include the former Minister of Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son, Arson Shalom Ntahobali; two former governors, Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana and two former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi and Eli Ndayambaje.

The prosecutor will have 12 hours for his closing arguments, while each of the defence team will be entitled to six hours, according to an order issued by Trial Chamber II presided by Tanzanian Judge, William Sekule.

The case was concluded on February 25, after the testimony of four prosecution witnesses who were recalled to the stand at the request of some of the defendants.

Known as "Butare Trial", the name of the native prefecture of the six defendants, this trial, which began on 11 June 2001, is undoubtedly the longest and also the most expensive of all the trials in  the international justice so far.

Prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity, all the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The proceedings were particularly long because of the difficulties with the witnesses and the extreme slowness of the questioning.

In addition, several expert witnesses were called in the trial and some would remain for a month on the stand.

During the defence case, conflicts of interests among defendants came to add to the slowness. The proceedings have taken more than 700 days of hearings.


© Hirondelle News Agency