06.01.11 - ICTR/NDAHIMANA - ICTR ORDERS REDUCTION OF NDAHIMANA'S DEFENCE WITNESSES

Arusha, January 6, 2011 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has ordered the defence in the case of former Mayor of Kivumu Commune, Kibuye prefecture, Grégoire Ndahimana, to reduce the number of 42 witnesses he intends to call.
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"The Chamber orders, pursuant to Rule 54 and 73ter (D) of the Rules, that the defence review its witnesses and file by close of business on January 12, 2011, a revised and significantly reduced witness list and order of appearance," Trial Chamber III said in its order published on the ICTR website.

The Chamber noted in the witness summaries provided by defence that numerous witnesses would testify about the election of the accused as a mayor, his good character and relations with Tutsis.

"Generally, the summaries suggest that defence plans to call excessive number of witnesses to prove the same facts, which may result in the prospective testimony being repetitious and redundant," the Chamber further noted.

The defence filed its pre-defence brief on December 7, 2010. The Chamber observed that the proposed 42 witnesses would take approximate 157 hours on examination in chief alone and require 31 trial days.

Therefore, according to the Chamber, the total defence case including cross examination and re-examination of witnesses could be significantly longer than that.

Ndahimana is scheduled to start presenting his defence case on January 17, 2011. In proving its case against the accused, the prosecution called only 15 witnesses in 19 trial days. It closed its case on November 19, 2010.

Lead Counsel for the accused Bharat Chadha told the Hirondelle News Agency on Thursday that he would comply with the order and file the revised list of witnesses before January 12, 2011.

"We cannot appeal at this early stage. We are ready to comply with the order. I cannot say to what extent, but we will make some adjustments of the witness list and it will be upon the Chamber to decide whether the submitted list will be reasonable," the counsel said.

The former mayor is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination as crime against humanity. He is alleged to have planned the massacres at Nyange Parish jointly with other officials. The trial commenced on September 6, 2010.

Ndahimana was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009. He was transferred to the Arusha UN Detention Facility on August 21, 2009.  He made his initial appearance on September 28, 2009 and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.   

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