Arusha, February 4, 2010 (FH) - Genocide-suspect Joseph Nzirorera, who was in 1994 the Secretary General of the then ruling party MRND , has requested the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to summon to appear an ICTR convict, Michel Bagaragaza.

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In 1994, Michel Bagaragaza was the head of the Rwandan Tea Authority. A close friend of the late president Juvénal Habyarimana, he was sentenced to 8 years in jail on November 5, 2009, after pleading guilty for his role during the genocide.

Prior to being himself tried by the ICTR,  Bagaragaza had been a "key witness" of the Prosecution in several cases, notably against Protais Zigiranyirazo, Habyarimana's brother-in-law.

Dubbed "Mr. Z", Zigiranyirazo was acquitted on appeal on November 16, 2009, after being handed down a 20 years term in his first trial.

In his written request to the court, Defence Lead Counsel Peter Robinson explains that no other witness could better prove that Joseph Nzirorera, his client, did not participate with other MRND leaders in a "joint criminal enterprise".

The American lawyer expresses his certitude that Bagaragaza will deny the existence of a "joint criminal enterprise".

He argues that the witness will be trusted by the court, for having collaborated with the Office of the Prosecution. However, he states that the Defence has so far been unable to bring the convict before the court.

Nzirorera, a civil engineer, is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He pleads not guilty.

Two others former MRND leaders are on the defendant's bench in this joint trial:  former MRND President Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and his erstwhile deputy Edouard Karemera.


© Hirondelle News Agency