23.06.09 - ICTR/KAREMERA - ICTR APPEALS COURT REJECTS DISJOINDER OF PROCEEDINGS IN JOINT-MRND TRIAL

Arusha, 23 June 2009 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has rejected the disjoinder of proceedings which had been granted in March in the trial of the three top leaders of the then ruling former Rwandan party, reports Hirondelle Agency.
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The disjoinder had been justified following the prolonged-ill health of one of the defendants, former President of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who has not been able to present himself before the court for almost a year because of unknown sickness.

The First Instance Chamber, presided by Judge Dennis Byron, had considered resolving the deadlock by ordering that the patient be tried later on in a separated trial, when ready to attend the hearings.

His lawyers had rejected the proposition.

Ngirumptase's two co-defendants, former MRND Vice-President and former Secretary-General, Edouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively, joined forces and sought for intervention of Appeals Chamber over the matter.

However, the proceedings continued while waiting for the ruling of the appeal judges.

According to the Appeals Court decision, and a copy availed Tuesday to the Hirondelle Agency, the upper court ruled that "in practice, Trial Chambers generally consider various professional opinions before taking an important procedural decision arising from an accused's medical condition which may impact the course of a trial".

Thus, the Appeals Chamber cancelled the disjoinder and referred the case before the first judges for a new examination, in the light of Ngirumpatse's current health condition.

In a debate Tuesday morning in an open session, Frederic Weyl, one of the counsels of the former MRND president, asked the judges to suspend the proceedings until end of October.

He also said that during the period, the Chamber would be able to handle pending motions, including the one requesting bail for Ngirumpatse, who desires to undergo treatment in an unnamed European country.

The Chamber had rejected this motion, but the Appeals Chamber had, in a judgment delivered at the beginning of April, ordered the re-examination, in first instance, of this matter presented by the lawyer as "crucial, essential and of strict humanity".

Judge Byron and his two colleagues have not yet rendered their decision.

ER/MM/SC/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency