Arusha, June 8, 2011 (FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has allowed the prosecution to call three extra witnesses to challenge the defence of alibi for Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana that he was not in Butare prefecture (Western Rwanda) as of April 21 and 22, 1994 and between April 26 through May 17, the same year.

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"The Trial Chamber considers that it is in the interests of justice to allow witnesses A, B and C to testify as prosecution rebuttal witnesses in response to the alibi defence for the dates of the morning of April 21 to the late afternoon of April 22, 1994 and from April 26 to on or about May 17, 1994," it ruled.

According to the decision dated June 7, 2011, the Chamber has ordered the prosecution to present its rebuttal evidence immediately starting June 22, 2011, following the close of defence case on June 17, 2011. It considered the alibi defence to constitute a central issue in the case and, therefore, highly relevant and probative.

The Chamber also noted that the proposed evidence of rebuttal witnesses was relevant, probative value and not of a cumulative nature. Therefore, it was of the view that hearing the evidence of the witnesses may assist in assessing other evidence adduced during the course of the trial, and more generally in its quest to ascertain the truth.

In its motion seeking leave to call the rebuttal witnesses, the prosecution had submitted that it did not receive sufficient notice of the accused's alibi evidence and that the resulting prejudice would be best cured by the presentation of rebuttal evidence, which will show that within the controversy period, Nizeyimana was in Butare and left at the end of May 1994.

The defence had, however, opposed to the motion, arguing it provided timely and adequate notice of the defendant's alibi and the prosecution did not demonstrate to have suffered prejudice. It further alleged that contents of the alibi evidence was reasonably foreseeable by the prosecution and failed to locate the three witnesses before closing its case.

According to the rules, the defence is also entitled to call a witness to produce "evidence in rejoinder" to contradict such rebuttal evidence, if need arises.

Presentation of defence case continues on Thursday. Nizeyimana is charged with genocide, extermination, murder and rape. He was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day.


© Hirondelle News Agency