Arusha, 15 May 2009 (FH) - The opening of defence case of former sub-prefect of Gisagara, southern Rwanda, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, on trial for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has been scheduled for 14 September, this year.

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The Chamber in a court order availed Thursday to Hirondelle Agency indicated that defence witnesse will be on the stand until 9 October.

The schedule has been released as the prosecutor, who called his first witness last week, was only halfway the case.

The initiative was considered as part of the Tribunal's efforts to finish all first instance trials by the end of the year, as directed by the UN Security Council.

During a "status conference" at the beginning of last week, Maroufa Diabira, lead counsel for Ntawukulilyayo, had, however, informed the judges that he had yet to put last touches on the list of his witnesses.

The Mauritanian lawyer had also expressed concerns about his potential witnesses, who are refugees in Uganda and in Burundi, who have been threatened with expulsion.

The former sub-prefect, who has claimed his innocence, was also accused of having had massacred thousands of ethnic Tutsis who had sought refuge at the end of April 1994 on Kabuye Hill.

Since the beginning of the trial last week, eight prosecution witnesses have been on the stand.   

A protected witness code named "BAW" stated on Thursday that the former administrative official had promised rewards to those who would kill the highest number of Tutsis.

The witness will be cross-examined by the defence on Monday.

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

Located in the prefecture of Butare, the sub-prefecture which he directed in 1994 included the communes of Kibayi, Muganza, Muyaga, Ndora and Nyaruhengeri.

The former Mayor of Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje, as well as the former Gobernors of Butare, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, tried along with three other defendants in another trial, wait to know their fate.

On 21 April, the prosecutor requested life in prison against each one of them.


© Hirondelle News Agency