Arusha, March 29, 2010 (FH) - The defence team of the former Rwandan Director in the Ministry of Family and Women Affairs Jean Baptiste Gatete Monday rested its case before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after fielding a total of 27 witnesses.

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Prosecution concluded its case on November 16, 2009 after presenting 22 witnesses. 

The defendant is facing charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former prefectures of Kibungo, eastern Rwanda and Byumba north-eastern Rwanda.

The last protected witness, code-named ‘'LA11'' to protect her identity, testified in closed session after which the chamber, presided by Judge Khalida Khan, held a brief status conference. Following discussions among the parties, the chamber ruled that there should be site visits to Rwanda between June 10 and 16, 2010.

Judge Khan also ordered both parties to file their written closing briefs by June 25 and oral arguments are scheduled for July 13.

The trial started on October 20, 2009.

The prosecution among others alleged that the defendant participated in the attacks against Tutsis in his own home commune of Murambi (Byumba prefecture) and in Rukira and Kayonza communes (Kibungo prefecture) in 1994 where thousands of Tutsis were killed.

Gatete was Mayor of Murambi commune from 1987 until June 1993. He was a member of the National Congress of the MRND (the party in power under President Habyarimana). He was active in party politics both at the national and the prefecture level.

He was dismissed as mayor in 1993 amidst allegations that he persecuted Tutsis of Murambi. He was then appointed Director in the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs.

According to the prosecution, Gatete continued to hold influence over local police, gendarmes and militiamen in the Byumba and Kibungo prefectures.

The defendant was arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on September 11, 2002 and subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.


© Hirondelle News Agency