Arusha, 26 March 2009 (FH) - A witness called Thursday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) denied that the former vice-president of the former presidential party, Edouard Karemera, distributed weapons in his native prefecture of Kibuye, western Rwanda.

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"I never intended to say that he would have distributed weapons", affirmed witness code-named "UOW", to protect his identity.

The prosecutor alleges that Karemera and his two co-defendants, the former President[ Mathieu Ngirumpatse] and Secretary- General [Joseph Nzirorera] of National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), took part in recruitment and arming the Interahamwe militiamen, main armed wing of the 1994 genocide committed against Tutsis.

"That never happened in my commune of Mabanza", stated UOW, stressing that if Karemera had distributed weapons he would have surely have been informed.

The trial of former MRND leaders had been paralysed since last August by Ngirumpatse's illness, hospitalized in Nairobi, Kenya, and who has opposed to the continuation of the proceedings in his absence.

On 3 March, the judges had ordered that Karemera and Nzirorera continue to be tried together and that the former president of the party be tried separately.

The three defendants immediately appealed this decision.

The Chamber reconsidered its decision on Monday after Ngirumpatse, joint by telephone by his lawyer, Chantal Hounkpatin, accepted that the proceedings continue in his absence while waiting for the decision of the Appeals Chamber.

This joint trial began on 19 September 2005. The prosecutor rested his case on 4 December 2007.


© Hirondelle News Agency