Arusha, 17 April 2009 (FH) - The Prosecutor will begin his closing arguments on Monday in the oldest trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), involving six defendants, including the former Minister for the Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko-- the only woman held by UN tribunal, trying key suspects of 1994 killings.

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The first woman to be indicted for genocide and incitement to commit rape by an international tribunal, Nyiramasuhuko, who has claimed her innocence, is also in the same with her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali (39), who is the youngest ICTR prisoner.

The trial opened in June 2001.

Nyiramasuhuko's son is accused of having raped ethnic Tutsi women during the genocide.

The others defendants are: two former Governors, Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana, and two Mayors of neighbouring communes-- Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje.

The prosecutor will have two days to present his closing arguments after which the defence teams will have their turn. According to the schedule of the Chamber the closing arguments are expected to be completed at the latest by 30 April.

The testimonies of four prosecution witnesses recalled to the stand at the request of some of the defendants were concluded on 25 February.

The trial dubbed as "Butare", the native prefecture of the six defendants in southern Rwanda, the case was undoubtedly the longest and also the most expensive in the history of international criminal justice.

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, including some who remained a month on the stand. During the presentation of the defence cases, conflicts of interests between the defendants contributed to the slowness.

Meanwhile, the closing arguments in the trial of Callixte Kalimanzira, former senior civil servant, will begin on Monday. Kalimanzira was acting Minister for Interior during the genocide.

He has pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity.


© Hirondelle News Agency