Arusha, January 18, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday decided to double the trial hours in the case involving  three senior leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party(MRND), one of the most delayed trial before the UN-Court.

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The case, which opened in September 2005, has encountered numerous problems, including re-assigning the bench and sickness of one of the defendants.

Since mid last year, MRND President Mathieu Ngirumpatse's poor health derailed the process, forcing the court to suspend proceedings for several months.

During the last session which ended in November 2009, the Chamber decided to conduct trials for about three hours so as to accommodate the health of Ngirumpatse.

Presiding Judge, Dennis Byron, disclosed that the latest report from the medical service of the tribunal pointed that Ngirumpatse's health had improved and could now seat for six hours daily in the joint case.

But Frederic Weyl, one of the lawyers defending Ngirumpatse, protested the move, claiming that the decision violated the principle of "equality of arms" between the prosecution and the defense, which wanted an independent medical report.

The presiding judge warned Weyl that he could be charged for contempt of court if he resisted the decision. Judge Byron advised the counsel to appeal if he was not satisfied.

However, Judge Byron stated that the Chamber can always reconsider its decision if and when necessary following proper advise.

The trial later continued with the hearing in a closed session of a prosecution witness who had been recalled by the defense of Joseph Nzirorera, former Secretary General of the MRND, who is currently presenting his witnesses.

Edouard Karemera, former Vice-President of MRND, has already finished presenting his defence case.

The three ex-top party leaders are held responsible for their superior responsibility during the 1994 killings. The prosecution concluded its case on December 4, 2007 after presenting 25 witnesses for all the three defendants.


© Hirondelle News Agency