Arusha, May 10, 2011 (FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has rescheduled to May 23, 2011 the commencement of special deposition proceedings in the case of the most wanted genocide fugitive Félicien Kabuga.

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"Due to unforeseen circumstances that have arisen, it will not be possible for the special deposition proceedings in this case to commence on May 16, 2011 as previously ordered. Instead, the proceedings will commence on Monday, May 23, 2011," Judge Vagn Joensen said in his variation order.

Judge Joensen, who will conduct the proceedings, said in the order dated May 6, 2011 that the session will continue until the depositions of all the prosecution witnesses are recorded.

"The proceedings will take place from Monday through Thursday each week, with a break during the week of June 6 to 10, 2011," he said.

While rescheduling the commencement date of the proceedings, the judge on the same day granted the prosecution's request to have twelve Rwandan detainees transferred to the United Nation Detention Facilities (UNDF) in Arusha. The detainees are among prosecution witnesses expected to testify during the proceedings.

"Therefore, I find that the prosecution has fulfilled the requirements under Rule 90 bis for the transfer of the twelve detained witnesses," Judge Joensen said in another decision on the prosecution's request for transfer of the said detainees.

Apart from Kabuga, who is alleged to be the main financier of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, other fugitives whom the prosecution seeks to safeguard evidence are Augustin Bizimana, former Minister of Defence and Major Protais Mpiranya, who was Commander of the Presidential Guard.

The prosecution considers the three figures as key suspects among the 10 still on the run. The ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow is seeking special deposition proceedings to be conducted for the trio, fearing that the evidence may be lost or deteriorate due to the passage of time, death and incapacity of unavailability of witnesses. These are first requests of its kind in the ICTR history.

In another decision given on May 5, 2011, the Tribunal granted the prosecutor's request for taking special deposition proceedings in the case of Bizimana after considering his position as a high-profile fugitive and the importance of his apprehension and trial to the many victims of his alleged crimes.

"In light of these circumstances, the Chamber concludes that it is in the interest of justice that evidence relating to the indictment be preserved for a future trial by special deposition," the Tribunal ruled. However, no date has been set for commencement of the proceedings.

According to sources at ICTR, Kabuga is said to be carrying out his commercial activities in Kenya, while Mpiranya is allegedly being protected by senior officials in Zimbabwe, whereas Bizimana may be hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


© Hirondelle News Agency