Arusha, October 22, 2001 (FH) - The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday resumed three genocide trials, after a short break for ICTR judges to attend a seminar in Ireland. Now in progress are the trials of: Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerard (Trial Chamber One); the so-called "Butare" case of six accused (Trial Chamber Two); and that of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza (Trial Chamber Three).

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Pastor and sonIn the Ntakirutimana case, which restarted briefly last Thursday, the court heard testimony from twelfth prosecution witness "XX", dubbed as such to shield her identity. The witness is a female Tutsi survivor of massacres at the Mugonero Seventh Day Adventist complex in Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the accused Elizaphan Ntakirutimana was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church there and his son Gerard was a doctor at the infirmary in the same complex. Both have pleaded not-guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The court had had to adjourn early on Friday after XX started her testimony but could not finish because of illness. On Monday morning she finished her testimony in chief. XX told the court that the two accused had led a militia attack on Tutsi refugees in the Bisesero hills (Kibuye prefecture) in mid-May 1994, in which "many many people" were killed. The case is before judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. Judge Mose, who was absent last week on a short mission, was back on the bench, meaning that the court had its full complement of judges. Six leaders from ButareThe Butare case, which had been suspended since June, resumed with the testimony of a second prosecution witness. Protected witness "QAM" is a Tutsi woman survivor of massacres in the southern Rwandan region of Butare, from which all six accused hail. This case groups former Minister of Women's Development Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son and former militia leader Arsène Ntahobali, former mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje and two former prefects of Butare, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. All have pleaded not-guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. QAM alleged that former mayor Kanyabashi ordered massacres in the sector of Ngoma in which she was living at the time of the genocide. According to the witness, Kanyabashi chided the "conseiller de secteur" (responsible for the sector) for not having launched massacres of Tutsis in that area, whereas they had already been finished elsewhere in Ngoma. Prior to the witness testimony, the court rejected an adjournment request from Ntahobali's new counsel, Duncan Mwanyumba of Kenya. Mwanyumba claimed he had not been given the complete file and still had no investigator (the ICTR Registry suspended Ntahobali's previous investigator, saying he was under investigation by Tribunal prosecutors for suspected involvement in the genocide). Mwanyumba said he had therefore been unable to prepare the case properly, and asked for another month. However, the court rejected his request, saying that Mwanyumba had been appointed in July and had therefore had three months to prepare. Before adjourning last June 27th, the court granted Ntahobali's request to have his former lawyers dismissed and new defence counsel assigned. His request was on the grounds that trust and communication between himself and his previous counsel, René Saint-Leger (Haiti/Canada) and co-counsel James Michael Bailey of the US, had broken down. The case is before judges Willaim Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar. Former mayor of BicumbiThe Semanza case resumed with the testimony of a seventh defence witness, dubbed DCN to protect his identity. Most of his testimony was heard behind closed doors on Monday morning. Meanwhile, prosecution again complained about defence changing the scheduled order of witnesses, saying this made it difficult to prepare cross-examination. Prior to adjournment on October 10th, the court rejected a defence request for more time to present witnesses. Lead counsel Charles Taku (Cameroon/US) said some of the defence witnesses were sitting final examinations in December, one had just given birth and was recuperating, some had changed their residential addresses, and another had a dying spouse. The accused Semanza, 57, is a former mayor of Bicumbi, in Kigali Rural prefecture, central Rwanda. He has pleaded not-guilty to 14 counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity including rape and persecution. The charges relate to massacres of Tutsis in Bicumbi and Gikoro communes during the 1994 genocide. The case is before judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. JC/PHD/FH (TR1022e)