Arusha, May 9, 2011 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday insisted that the defence case for former Rwandan Mayor Grégoire Ndahimana should be closed by May 13, 2011.

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"We would like to remind the defence that it should close its case by May 13. There must be end of litigation," the Presiding Judge Florence Rita Arrey said after the defence had failed to field its witness codenamed ND20 who had been scheduled to testify when the hearing resumed.

Earlier, the defendant's lead counsel Bharat Chadha had sought for appropriate direction after the witness failed to show up on claims that he received death threats on his life.

"The witness is material and very crucial. We still hope that the presence of the witness could be procured. We ask the Chamber to order or give directives so that this important witness can appear and testify," the counsel urged.

However, the judge said the information received suggests that the witness was not willing to come. "It is clear from the information we have received that the witness is not willing to come. This is not the first time he is doing so. This is costing the Tribunal. The witness should be dropped by the defence," she ordered.

Following such order, only one witness has remained to testify for Ndahimana, former Mayor of Kivumu Commune in Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda). The witness is expected to testify on May 12, 2011. Already 29 witnesses have testified for the defendant since he began presenting his case on January 17, 2011.

Ndahimana is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination, as a crime against humanity. He is accused of planning the massacres at Nyange Church in his commune jointly with other officials, including the parish priest, father Athanase Seromba, currently serving life imprisonment sentence for his involvement.

Others are businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for similar offence and Fulgence Kayishema, former Judicial Police Inspector of the commune, who is still at large.  More than 2000 Tutsi refugees were allegedly killed at the church.

Ndahimana was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009. He was transferred to Arusha on August 21, 2009.  He made his initial appearance on September 28, 2009 and denied all the charges.


© Hirondelle News Agency