Arusha, January 11, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday adjourned defence hearing for Mathieu Ngirumpatse, former President of ruling party in 1994 (MRND), to January 17, when the defendant will start testifying on his own defence.

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Ngirumpatse takes the floor because his counsel could not be able to secure first the testimony of witness code-named BU who was to testify through video link. The defendant's co-counsel, Frederic Weyl, told the Trial Chamber that the other remaining witness was not reliable and could also testify under similar condition.

The Chamber said it was taking measures, including compelling the state concerned to ensure the witness whose evidence would be received through video link testifies.

The defence request for adjournment was granted to next Monday after taking into consideration circumstances and the suggestion by the defendant's lead counsel Chantal Hounkpatin (not in court) that she would prefer the accused to start his evidence under her direct examination.

Before the adjournment, two defence witnesses, Malien Habyarimana, former Director General of Technical Coordination with Transport and Communications Ministry and Innocent Nzabona, former official with the Rwandan Central Intelligence Services, testified for Ngirumpatse.

Briefly, Habyarimana refuted the prosecution's claim that illegal aircrafts landed in Kigali between 1993 and 1994 and delivered illicit weapons that were used during the tragedy that struck Rwanda within the period.

In his part, Nzabona decorated the accused, describing him a "Man of God" based on his wisdom with exceptional human quality. "Ngirumpatse to me as far as I know and if journalists were to ask me I would say he is honest and very humble," the witness said.

In the case, Ngirumpatse is charged jointly with former Vice-president of MRND, Edouard Karemera, with genocide and crimes against humanity, mainly for their "command responsibility" in crimes committed in 1994 by members of their party. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges. Karemera has already presented his defence case.


© Hirondelle News Agency