Arusha, March 05, 2010 (FH)-Genocide-accused former Director in the Rwandan Ministry of Family and Women Affairs Jean-Baptiste Gatete started his defence case on Tuesday before the UN Tribunal for Rwanda, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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He is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. He has pleaded not guilty.

The first defence witness, a woman code-named ‘'LA 41'', denied that the accused ordered killings of Tutsis on April 7, 1994, at Rwankuba District office of Murambi commune, eastern Rwanda.

The defendant was arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on September 11, 2002, and subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha. His trial started on October 20, 2009. The prosecution closed its case on November 16 having heard 22 witnesses.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday adjourned the defence case of genocide-accused Joseph Nzirorera, former Secretary General of then Rwandan ruling party MRND, to April 12.

A total of 31 witnesses have so far testified for Nzirorera. Ten witnesses testified in this session, which resumed on January 18. Nzirorera's defence is the second to testify in this joint trial after Edouard Karemera, ex-MRND Vice President, who completed his case on May 28, last year. Mathieu Ngirumaptse, former president of the MRND, will be the third and last to give his defence evidence.

Before the adjournment, Solange Akajeneza, daughter of a genocide convict Lt. Col. Ephrem Setako, alleged that she fled with the accused from Kigali town to Mukingo commune, Ruhengeri prefecture, on April 12, 1994 as killings were escalating.

The three former leaders are held responsible for their superior responsibility for the crimes allegedly committed by their subordinates.

In another development, the Chamber III of ICTR Friday directed the defence team of genocide-accused former Rwandan Minister for Youth Callixte Nzabonimana to reduce their number of witnesses.

Ugandan Judge Solomy Barungi Bossa made the order Friday during a status conference in which prosecution led by Memory Maposa from Zimbabwe complained that a list of 162 defence witnesses proposed in the pre-trial brief was too big compared to prosecution's 20.

‘'We don't need repetitious or redundant witnesses,'' Judge Bossa stressed.

The defence case of Nzabonimana is expected to commence on March 29 or April 12, depending on the status of an on-going case in another Chamber involving Ex-Minister of Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware.

Judge Bossa told the parties that, two judges assigned to Nzabonimana's trial including herself and Madagascan Mparany Rajohnson were also members of on going trial of the accused Ngirabatwara expected to conclude its prosecution case on March 19.

She said if that happened then Nzabonima's defence case would commence on March 29 but if not it would be shifted to April 12 session which would run until June 5.


© Hirondelle News Agency