The defendants in the case commonly known as Government II are Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Prosper Mugiraneza, (Public Service), Jérome Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs) and Justin Mugenzi (Trade).
They are charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination and rape) and war crimes.
Delivery of judgement comes twelve years after the arrest of the accused in 1999. Bizimungu was arrested in Kenya on February 11, 1999 and transferred to UNDF in Arusha on February 23, 1999. Mugiraneza, Bicamumpaka and Mugenzi were interpellated on April 6, 1999 in Cameroon and transferred to Arusha on July 31, 1999.
The highly awaited event also comes eight years after the commencement of the trial, on November 6, 2003.
Trial Chamber presided over by Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, the ICTR President, has been drafting the judgement for three years since the parties completed presenting their closing arguments. Other members of the Chamber are Judges Emile Short and Lee Muthoga.
The evidence phase was closed on June 12, 2008 and closing arguments were heard between December 1 and 5, 2008. During presentation of closing arguments, the prosecution requested a life sentence for each of the accused, but defence lawyers sought for the acquittal of their clients.
Mugiraneza has four times tried in vain to get his case dropped owing to the court's slowness and for ‘'violation of right to trial without undue delay.'' The Chamber rejected his last such motion in June 2010, but with a landmark "dissenting opinion" by one of the judges. Judge Short said that in his opinion the accused's rights had indeed been violated. As a consequence, the judge said, Mugiraneza should get his sentence reduced if found guilty and should get compensation in case he is acquitted.
© Hirondelle News Agency