Arusha, 4 May, 2009 (FH) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday was compelled to adjourn to Wednesday the trial of former Rwandan sub-prefect, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Maroufa Diabira, Mauritanian lead defence counsel for the accused pleaded with the Chamber, presided by Judge Khalida Khan of Pakistan that his team was served with only English version of the amended indictment whereas his client and the team as the whole was Francophone.

Diabira could not also accept to start his defence four weeks after prosecution concludes its case because, he said ,he was not sure about the availability of the accused witnesses whom according to him were expected to come from, Canada, United States, Europe, Malawi, Uganda and Burundi.

He explained that to make matters worse even the eight defence witnesses, the Rwandan refugees in Burundi could not give assurance of their availability together with other refugees from Uganda alleging that they have been threatened to be expelled by the authorities in the countries they reside.

‘'For now I am on a ‘fishing' expedition, I cannot tell you for sure how many witnesses I have,'' Diabira explained desperately. The prosecution is expecting to field a total of 15 witnesses.

Earlier, the counsel asked the Chamber to start its defence case after September 1, 2009, but presiding Judge Khan said that was not possible and adjourned the pre-trial hearing until Wednesday when she would give the ruling on the matter.

Judge Khan also ordered the language section of the Tribunal to translate the amended portions of the indictment from English into  French and hand it over to the defence at the close of business on Monday.

Accused of genocide, complicity in genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide, the former sub-prefect of Gisagara, in the prefecture of Butare (southern Rwanda) has claimed his innocence.

"Between 21 and 25 April 1994, Ntawukulilyayo gathered soldiers and gendarmes in Butare and transferred them on Kabuye Hill (in his sub-prefecture) to kill Tutsis who were there", claims the indictment.

"For the same period, he also collected in Butare ammunitions which were used by the attackers to kill Tutsis on Kibuye Hill", alleges the prosecutor.

This is the third new trial for this year. Two others already in progress are of former Rwandan businessman, Yusuf Munyakazi and former army officer, Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana,

The former sub-prefect was arrested on 16 October 2007 in Carcassonne, south-western France, on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the ICTR on 21 September of the same year.


© Hirondelle News Agency