Arusha, 18 September 2009 (FH) -  Michel Bagaragaza, former Rwandan Tea Authority boss during the 1994 genocide and close -friend of the former Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana, Thursday this week pleaded guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for his role in the massacres.

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Following the guilty plea, the Chamber scheduled November 2 as the date of commencement of the hearing of ‘'character witnesses'' who would be called by the defence.  

During the hearing, presided by Judge Vagn Joensen , the former chief of Tea Authority pleaded to ‘'complicity to commit genocide''  for letting the assailants use the authority's vehicles during their killing spree.

 It is the ninth guilty plea, which came after difficult negotiations between the accused and the office of the prosecutor.

Meawhile, prosecution in the genocide case against the former Rwandan businessman, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, Thursday concluded its case after fielding 11 witnesses to support charges leveled against the defendant.

The last two protected witnesses dubbed ‘'CDK'' and ‘'CBS'' to conceal their identities, separately gave evidence about the major attack at  Nyange Parish, Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture on April 15,

1994 where  over a thousand of Tutsis who sought refuge inside the church were brutally killed and the Godly house demolished by a bulldozer.

Prosecuting counsel, Holo Makwaia later told Hirondelle Agency after the status conference that the court would make a ruling on the scheduling order following disagreement between the parties on the

proposed date of the commencement of the defence case.

And the eldest detainee of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Yussuf Munyakazi, 74, will testify on his own defence from October 14 to 16 as the last witness in his trial.

Prosecuted for genocide and extermination, "the old man"  is accused of having carried out murderous attacks against Tutsis who had sought refuge in churches of the Cyangugu prefecture (south-western Rwanda ) in April 1994. The judges scheduled the date of the defendant's testimony after having heard the 19th defence witness, a "genocidaire" sentenced to life in prison in Rwanda .

Next Wednesday, this Tribunal will commence the hearing of a new trial against the former Rwandan Minister for Planning, Agustin Ngirabatware.

The beginning of this trial was deferred on several occasions, notably because of the re-composition of the defence team.

Prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity he pleaded not guilty. He is notably accused of having used public funds to finance the activities of the Interahamwe militiamen who actively participated in the killings.

And a total of twelve witnesses are expected to arrive in Arusha this week-end for the defence of the former Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana whose trial resumes next Wednesday before the Tribunal.


© Hirondelle News Agency