Arusha, April 20, 2010 (FH) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was compelled to hear the cross examination of a protected defence witness in the case of former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana, in a closed session.

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The witnessed code-named ‘'T5'' had earlier asked the Chamber to allow him to testify  behind closed doors citing security reasons but the Chamber held that it had an obligation also to ensure that the proceedings were conducted in the transparent manner.

‘'The witnesses speaks in French. He has a very specific French accent which can easily identify him,'' cautioned Monday the accused French lead defence counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse shortly before the commencement of prosecution's cross examination.

Ugandan Presiding Judge, Solomy Balungi Bossa, decided to proceed with the hearing in closed session but also ordered the registry to make arrangement so that the witness could continue to give his testimony with a disguised voice on the side of the public gallery.

A report from the Communication Unit presented before the Chamber on Tuesday morning stated that the unit's audio system did not have a facility to scramble the voice on one side of the public and at the same time allow judges, court officers and interpreters to hear the ordinary voice.

Following such a report the Chamber ruled that the rest of the testimony be conducted in closed session.

Nzabonimana is facing five charges-- genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. He has denied the charges.

The defence case started on April 14.

The trial continues Wednesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency