Arusha, March 12, 2010 (FH) - The prosecution is approaching to close its case against the former Minister for Planning Augustin Ngirabatware, who is on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) over his role in the 1994 genocide.

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According to the Senior Trial Attorney, Wallace Kapaya, already 14 witnesses have testified in the trial that began in January. ‘'We're now left between four and five witnesses to wrap up the case,' the Tanzanian attorney told Hirondelle Agency.

Ngirabatware has pleaded not guilty. According to the indictment, Ngirabatware incited Hutus to kill their Tutsi neighbours in his hometown of Nyamyumba, Gisenyi Prefecture, between April 6 and April 12, 1994. He is also charged with misappropriating public funds to finance the Interahamwe militia.

Meanwhile, a protected defence witness denied Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Jean-Baptiste Gatete, former Director in ministry of Family and Women Affairs, was present during the killings of Tutsi refugees at Kiziguro parish in Murambi commune ,northern Rwanda, in April 1994.

‘'If I had seen him I would have spoken about him,'' witness code-named ‘'LA85'' told the Chamber during examination in-chief by the accused's French lead defence counsel, Marie-Pierre Poulain.

During cross examination by Prosecution counsel Adelaide Whest from Sierra Leone, the witness admitted that local authorities behaved like people who were controlled by ‘'Satan'' as they did nothing to stop the mass killings.

So far 12 defence witnesses have testified out of the expected 36.

The indictment, among others, alleges that the accused supervised and participated in the killings of civilians at Kiziguro parish on April 11, 1994.

This trial started on October 20, 2009. The prosecution closed its case on November 16 after having heard 22 witnesses.

In another development, the Appeals Chamber will on March 18 deliver two judgments. The judgements are in the cases of former Rwandan musician Simon Bikindi and ex-Rwandan Deputy Prosecutor for Cyangugu Prefecture Simeon Nshamihigo.

On December 2, 2008 Bikindi was convicted on a single count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide by the first instance court.

Nshamihigo was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 24, 2008 by the lower UN Court.

These will be first appeals' judgements for this year. Seven more appeals judgements are still pending before the Chambers.


 © Hirondelle News Agency