Arusha, August 10, 2011 (FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has admitted additional defence testimony in the genocide trials of former Rwandan military officer Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana and former Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana, both of which are due to resume in September.

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In an August 5 decision, the court granted a motion from Nizeyimana's defence to hear additional evidence from protected witness BNN07, and set a date of September 6. In a separate decision, judges granted a request from  Nzabonimana's defence to admit written statements from three protected witnesses dubbed T2, T73 and T103.

The Nizeyimana case had previously been scheduled to resume on September 7, 2011, to hear the prosecution's "rebuttal" evidence challenging the defence of alibi for the accused. Nizeyimana claims that he was not in Butare in the months of April and May, 1994, when the crimes of which he is accused were allegedly committed. The defence had closed its case on June 16, after calling 38 witnesses.

The Tribunal considered it "in the interest of justice to allow the defence to re-open its case for the purpose of hearing witness BNN07", who will testify about events at the Groupe Scolaire, where the accused is alleged to have authorized, ordered or instigated soldiers from different camps to kill Tutsi refugees.

Resumption of the Nzabonimana trial is scheduled for September 12 with prosecution cross-examination of defence witnesses T2 and T73, whose statements describe the political climate in Gitarama prefecture, central Rwanda, at the time of the alleged crimes.

The Tribunal said that "addition of the witnesses is supported by good cause and in the interest of justice." The evidence phase in Nzabonimana's trial had been closed on May 6, 2011, when the defence wound up its case after presenting 37 witnesses. Presiding Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa subsequently ordered the parties to submit their written closing briefs by July 5, 2011 and said the date for oral submissions would be announced later.


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