Arusha, March 22, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday was compelled to postpone cross examination of Fernand Batard, Chief Investigator and witness in the defence case of former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana for failure of the defence to disclose relevant evidence material to prosecution.

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‘'The Trial Chamber notes that the duty to disclose exculpatory materials falls on all the parties. This duty was breeched in this case by the defence. For the interest of justice we give the prosecution seven days to investigate the allegations,'' Presiding Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa ruled.

The Chamber scheduled cross examination for this French witness to commence on March 29 and at the meantime other defence witnesses would continue giving their evidence.

The ruling followed a motion presented by Prosecution Attorney, Paul Ng'arua before the Chamber asking adjournment of cross examination of Batard's evidence, alleging that he testified on matters in which the prosecution was never put on notice as required by the law.

The issues in question included allegations that the defence team was spied upon by the Rwandan authorities while on official duty in Rwanda, detention of Batard at Kigali airport in July, 2008 for 19 hours as he tried to enter the country for the investigation in Nzabonimana trial and setting up of special Gacaca court in Kiyumba sector, Gitarama prefecture to intimidate Nzabonimana's witnesses.

According to Ng'arua, the other point he asked to investigate before cross examining the witness was allegation about manipulation of defence and prosecution witnesses at Gitarama prison by the Rwandan authorities so that witnesses could give testimony against former leaders in power during genocide in 1994 and in return they received reduced sentence.

‘'We need to investigate all these issues. The defence counsel could have brought these allegations to our attention but he failed to do so. We ask 10 days adjournment to investigate these matters,'' Ng'arua suggested though the Chamber granted him seven days.

The Chamber then continued with the testimony of another defence witness.

The accused is facing five charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. He has denied the charges.


© Hirondelle News Agency