Arusha, December 14, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was Tuesday compelled to adjourn to January 17, next year, the defence case of former Rwandan Minister of Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware, two days before the scheduled time as one of the judges was reportedly bereaved.

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‘'We will have to stop here because one of the members of the bench is bereaved,'' declared Tanzanian Presiding Judge, William Hussein Sekule without giving further details. Other members of the bench are Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda and Madagascan Rajohnson Mparany.

‘'The court is adjourned to 17 January, 2011 for the continuation of cross-examination,'' Judge Sekule said cautioning that in the meantime the accused should not get in touch with his lawyers.

At the time of adjournment, Ngirabatware who commenced his defence on November 16, 2010 was being cross-examined by the prosecution for the fifth day. The prosecution closed its case on November 15, 2009 after calling 20 witnesses.

Ngirabatware hails from what used to be the Nyamyumba commune, Gisenyi prefecture (North of Rwanda). He is the son-in-law of a wealthy businessman on the run, Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide.

The defendant, among others, is accused of inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis during numerous meetings in his home prefecture in 1994. In examination in chief with his lead counsel Peter Hebert, Ngirabatware denied that he ever went to his home prefecture of Gisenyi during the time in question.   

The former minister fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and France. He was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and has been in ICTR custody since October 8, 2008.


© Hirondelle News Agency