Arusha, 1 April 2009 (FH) - Due to a lack of availability of witnesses, the trial of three former leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party, on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, was adjourned on Wednesday until 6 April.

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The trial had resumed last week after several months of suspension, without Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the former president of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), because of his ill health.

The second-to-last witness to testify this week, code named "PJ", who lived in 1994 in Kibuye, western Rwanda, and who testified yesterday in favour of Karemera, the former vice-president of the MRND, repeated what all of the defence witnesses have stated before the judges these last few days that the Interahamwe were not present in the region of Kibuye between April and July 1994.

The prosecutor alleges that Karemera and his two co-defendants, Ngirumpatse and the former secretary- general of the MRND, Joseph Nzirorera, took part in recruitment and arming of the Interahamwe militiamen, the main armed wing of the genocide committed against Tutsis in 1994.

During the cross-examination, Don Webster, head of the prosecution team, read Wednesday morning before the Chamber an extract of official transcript of a meeting held in Kigali in 1993 for the second anniversary of the creation of the Interahamwe of the MRND, and where Edouard Karemera assisted.

"From April to June 1994, didn't you see Interahamwe arriving from Kigali, from Gisenyi and Cyangugu to attack the Tutsis from Bisesero (western Rwanda)?", asked the prosecutor to the witness.

"No, I was not a witness to that", he responded.

Webster then evoked a letter from June 1994, written by Ignace Bagalishema, the Mayor of Mabanza (prefecture of Kibuye), to the prefect of Kibuye. Bagalishema, was tried and acquitted by the ICTR.

"Does that refresh your memory?", asked the prosecutor.

"That does not remind me of anything", answered the witness.

Webster finally showed a letter from 28 June 1994 in which Karemera, writing to the Governor of Kibuye, announced to him that he has asked the military commander of the section of Gisenyi, following a ministerial meeting, to support the gendarmerie of Kibuye, in answer to the telegrams sent at the beginning of month by the Governor.

Does the witness agree that it is evidence of coordination between several authorities?

"How can I know, I was only a simple peasant", he answered.

Tuesday, PJ had stated to have responsibilities in the civil administration for the prefecture of Kibuye at the time of the genocide, working for the department of public works.


© Hirondelle News Agency