November 25, 2010 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday adjourned to January 10, next year, the trial involving two former Rwandan top leaders of ex-ruling party, MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera.

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Before the adjournment, Trial Chamber III conducted a status conference wherein the defence for Ngirumpatse indicated that it would provide a final list of the remaining witnesses on December 1, 2010. Since the start of his defence case on August 23, 2010, Ngirumpatse, former MRND president, has so far called 35 witnesses.

Among two witnesses who testified on Thursday, was former Rwandan Minister for Interior of the actual regime, Theobald Gakwaya, who briefly told the court that Ngirumpatse neither perpetrated nor incited members of the population to exterminate Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

Gakwaya, also a founder of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights in the early nineties, claimed that he never received any report indicating that the defendant was among persons who perpetrated the genocide. According to him, even when he was minister he never received any complain about the accused.

"Between July and August 1994, four human right associations carried out a census in Kigali to collect information to the people who had participated in genocide and of 3000 names listed to my knowledge there was no mentioning of Ngirumpatse," the minister testified in examination in chief by the defendant's co-counsel Frederic Weyl.

In his part, Karemera, the party's vice president, has concluded presenting his defence case. A total of 35 witnesses testified in Karemera's case including himself. The prosecution called 46 witnesses, of whom 30 appeared before the Chamber for direct examination, while the evidence of 16 was admitted through their written statements.

In the trial, Ngirumpatse and Karemera are charged with seven counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed, mostly by members of their party, its youth wing, Interahamwe, in particular.

The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organization formed by groups of young males who allegedly carried out the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. The prosecution has notably indicted the duo for their superior responsibility as top officials of the party. 

Earlier, the prosecution had charged Ngirumpatse and Karemera jointly with the then MRND Secretary General, Joseph Nzirorera. The Tribunal, however, terminated the proceedings against Nzirorera following his death on July 1, 2010. Before meeting his death, Nzirorera was still presenting his defence case.


© Hirondelle News Agency