Arusha, 23 April 2009 (FH) - The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday in the trial of the Lieutenant-Colonel Ephrem Setako, prosecuted before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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The 20th and final prosecution witness, who testified behind closed doors, left the stand on Wednesday, according to Ifeoma Ojemini Okali, lead prosecution attorney.

The ex-officer will begin his defence on 4 May.

A law graduate from the National University of Rwanda (UNR), Setako, who has pleaded not guilty, was during the 1994 genocide the Director of Legal Affairs at the defence ministry.

He is considered by the prosecutor as a privileged person because he was a native of the same region as the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, who was killed on 6 April, 1994, after his plane was shot-down by unknown assailants as it was approaching the capital, Kigali.

At the opening of the trial on 25 August 2008, Mrs. Ojemini Okali had accused Setako of having trained and armed Interahamwe militiamen and of having ordered them to kill Tutsis in several communes of her native prefecture of Ruhengeri, northern Rwanda, as in the capital, Kigali.

The lead defence counsel, Lennox Hinds, has dismissed the prosecution's argument, by claiming that his client has not even been accused in Kigali or in Ruhengeri before the Rwandan semi-traditional courts (Gacaca), charged with trying alleged leaders of the genocide.

Setako, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested in February 2004 in a center for asylum seekers in The Netherlands.


© Hirondelle News Agency