09.03.11 - ICTR/NZABONIMANA - ICTR GRANTS PROSECUTION REBUTTAL EVIDENCE IN NZABONIMANA TRIAL

Arusha, March 9, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has allowed the prosecution to call a witness to rebut defence of alibi of former Rwandan Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana that he was at the French Embassy in Kigali between April 7 and 11, 1994.
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"The Trial Chamber grants the motion and permits the prosecution to call Witness CNR1 to testify immediately after the close of the defence case. (It) considers that the proposed evidence of Witness CNR1 is relevant, has probative value and is not of a cumulative nature," it ruled in its decision dated March 8, 2011.

The Chamber was of the view that hearing of evidence of this witness may assist it in assessing other evidence adduced during the course of trial and more generally in its quest to ascertain the truth.

By calling Witness CNR1 the prosecution wants to show that Nzaboniman's presence at the French Embassy from April 7 to 11, 1994 did not preclude him from having been in Gitarama (Central Rwanda) at any time of the day.

According to the prosecution, Witness CNR1 was a driver in April 1994 and would testify that on April 8, 1994 he escorted the defendant to Gitarama.

The prosecution noted that the indictment alleges that Nzabonimana was in Gitarama between April 8 and 9, 1994 and the witness would show that the accused went to Gitarama on April 8, 1994, evidence which has significant probative value, is not cumulative and would not cause a needless consumption of time.  

In its response, the defence had objected to the prosecution's move, submitting that the said rebuttal evidence has no probative value and does not contradict Nzabonimana's alibi, but collaborates the evidence of some defence witnesses who placed him at the French Embassy at the end of the afternoon.

The defence contended further that adding this rebuttal witness to the trial session would cause serious prejudice to the fair right of the accused.   

Nzabonimana is alleged to have played an important role in the massacres of Tutsis in his native prefecture of Gitarama. He is facing five charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder.

He was arrested in the western part of Tanzania on February 18, 2008 and was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha the next day.

His trial took off on November 9, 2009 and the prosecution concluded its case on April 13, 2010 after fielding 19 witnesses. Nzabonimana's defence case, which started on April 14, 2010, still continues before the ICTR.

FK/NI/ER

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