Arusha, October 4, 2011 (FH) - The proceedings in the defence case of genocide-accused and former Rwandan Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware are likely to continue in closed sessions, lead defence Counsel Peter Herbert told Hirondelle News Agency on Tuesday.

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‘'We will continue mostly in closed sessions because of the kind of witnesses we have. They are from small villages whose identity could be easily known if allowed to testify in open session,'' said lead Counsel.

The former minister is accused of genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity allegedly committed in his native commune of Nyamyumba, Gisenyi prefecture, North Rwanda in 1994.

For almost three weeks now since the resumption of Ngirabatware's defence case on September 19, 2011, witnesses have been testifying mostly behind closed doors.

The lead Counsel explained that since the beginning of this session, 7 witnesses have given evidence, increasing the number of defence witnesses who testified for Ngirabatware so far to 23. The prosecution closed its case on August 31, 2010, after presenting 20 witnesses.

The Trial Chamber, lead by Judge William Sekule authorized the defence team to bring 19 more witnesses for this session considered to be the last one for the defence case, earmarked to end on October 31, 2011.

In its decision of August 26, 2011, the Chamber directed the defence to reduce the number of its remaining witnesses from 42 to 19.


© Hirondelle News Agency