Arusha, June 22, 2010 (FH) - Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has refused to postpone the site visit and hearing of closing arguments in the case of ex-Rwandan Director in the Ministry of Family and Women Affairs Jean Baptiste Gatete.

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The Chamber set to conduct the site visit to Rwanda between July 11 and 16, 2010, while hearing of closing arguments was scheduled for August 2. The defence sought for postponement of the sessions because of security situation in Rwanda and "tension" arising from "the upcoming presidential election" in August.

However, in its decision dated June 17, 2010, the Trial Chamber said that after the filing of defence request it directed the ICTR Security and Safety Unit in Kigali to evaluate security risk for the proposed dates of the site visit.

"After assessing the current political climate in Rwanda, the Unit considers that it will be safe to undertake the site visit from 11 to 16 July 2010. The chamber, therefore, decline to postpone the site visit and closing arguments," it ruled.

The Chamber directed the registry to make all necessary arrangements to visit the relevant sites and to liaise with the parties and the chamber to facilitate the implementation of its decision.

The prosecution had objected to the postponement of the sessions because the defence failed to show that security situation in Rwanda was so tense such that the Chamber could not exercise its functions there.

Gatete is charged with 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 in the North-Eastern of Rwanda.

The defence rested its case on March 29, 2010 after fielding 27 witnesses whereas the prosecution concluded the same on November 16, 2009 after presenting 22 witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency