Arusha, January 15, 2010 (FH) - Two trials, including that of former three top leaders of the ex-presidential party, resume on Monday before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), marking the beginning of a judicial marathon aimed at wrapping-up most first instance trials.

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The President of the ICTR, Justice Dennis Byron has already cautioned the UN at the beginning of December, 2009, that some trials were at risk of not being completed by December 31, the date fixed by the Security Council to close all first instance trials.

Among them, the trial of MRND's leaders resumes on Monday with former Secretary General Joseph Nzirorera continuing his defence. At adjournment last year, Nzirorera's defence had already presented 12 witnesses.

The session will continue until March 18, this year.

Nzirorera, a civil engineer by profession, appears in a joint trial with co-accused, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, respectively former President and Vice-President of the then ruling party.

The trial opened in September 2005. The three men are held responsible for their superior responsibility during the 1994 killings.

Since the middle of last year, the illness of Ngirumpatse has complicated the case, forcing the court to suspend proceedings for several months. Because of the ill-health of Ngirumpatse, the trial is currently conducted half-day to enable the former MRND President attend the proceedings.

The prosecution concluded its case on December 4, 2007 after presenting 25 witnesses for all the three defendants.

The other trial which will resume on Monday is that of the businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, who starts his defence case. The Prosecution closed its case on September 17 after fielding 11 witnesses.

Kanyarukiga is accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination).

He is alleged to have encouraged the destruction of Nyange's church, Western Rwanda, where more than 1,500 ethnic Tutsis perished when the building was brought down by a bulldozer in mid-April 1994.

The six other on-going trials will resume progressively.

In addition, two suspects are still waiting for the commencement of their trials. They are former Mayor of Kivumu commune Gregoire Ndahimana, and Captain Ildephonse

Nizeyimana, who  was second in command of the Noncommissioned Officers School (Ecole des sous-officiers, ESO) in the southern town of Butare at the time of the 1994 genocide.

The ICTR is expecting this year judgements for a total of 21 accused persons, including 16 which are at drafting phase.

Since its establishment in November 1994, the UN Tribunal has convicted 40 persons and acquitted eight.


© Hirondelle News Agency