23.06.09 - ICTR/MILITARY II - CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN SECOND TRIAL OF EX-TOP ARMY OFFICERS WEDNESDAY

Arusha, 23 June 2009 (FH) - The Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will start his closing arguments on Wednesday in the "Military II" trial, involving four officers, which include the former chiefs of staff of the army and the gendarmerie,  Generals Augustin Bizimungu and Augustin Ndindiliyimana respectively, reports Hirondelle Agency.
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The other defendants are: former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded one of the squadrons of this elite unit.

Accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, all four have claimed not guilty.

After the closing arguments of the prosecutor, the defence counsels will make their submissions.

The closing arguments are expected to last at least three days.

The judges will then begin to deliberate and their verdict is expected next year.

The trial, which is one of the most important in the history of the ICTR, opened in September 2004.

Hearings were officially closed in December 2008, but a special session took place in February to hear four prosecution witnesses re-called to the stand at the request of the defence.

In April, the judges, defence counsels and representatives from the Office of Prosecutor travelled to Rwanda for a week to visit the alleged sites of massacres.

In December, in the "Military I" Trial, the former Director of Cabinet in the Defence Ministry , Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the former commander of the operational sector of Gisenyi (northern Rwanda), Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of the para-commando battalion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, were sentenced to life in prison. The former chief of operations at the general staff of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, who was on trial along with them, was acquitted.

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