Arusha, August 12, 2011 (FH) -The prosecution is going to seek "legal action" against the defence team in the case of former Rwandan Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware, when the case resumes on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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This follows the failure by the defence to comply with the Tribunal's order to reduce the number of witnesses that will testify for the accused. The defence has indicated that 53 witnesses would testify in favour of Ngirabatware. As of July 13, 2011, only 13 witnesses had been called.

When reached for comment on the matter, Lead Counsel for the defendant, Peter Herbert, told Hirondelle News Agency Friday that he was "busy."

Prosecuting Attorney Wallace Kapaya, when contacted, confirmed the defence's failure to comply with the court's order. He said, "Up to now they have not provided with the list. What we have is the order of appearance for the witnesses who will testify in the next session."

According to the prosecutor, "That is contempt of court. We are going to bring this matter to the attention of the Chamber and seek legal action against the defence on Monday after resumption of the case."

He added, "This is putting us in a difficult situation on how we should prepare ourselves as we are not certain who among the witnesses will be called." In supporting charges against Ngirabatware, the prosecution, with a burden of proving beyond reasonable doubts, called only 20 witnesses.

On July 13, 2011, a Trial Chamber noted that 45 defence witnesses remained to be heard and, therefore, ordered the "defence to significantly reduce this number (and) file its final list and order of appearance of remaining witnesses by 1st August 2011."

The Chamber took into the consideration that the evidence phase in Ngirabatware's trial was expected to be concluded at the end of October, 2011, thus, the current number of 45 remaining witnesses scheduled to testify for the accused was excessive.

In the trial, Ngirabatware is charged with genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.

Ngirabatware, who hails from what used to be the Nyamyumba Commune, is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide, who is still on the run. He fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and France.

He was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and transferred to ICTR custody on October 8, 2008. His trial took off September 22, 2009. The prosecution closed its case on August 31, 2010. The ex-minister started defending himself on November 16, 2010 and completed giving his own evidence on February 15, 2011.


© Hirondelle News Agency