Arusha, October 5, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will start conducting special deposition proceedings in the case of former Rwandan Defence Minister, Augustin Bizimana, on November 8, 2011, in order to preserve the prosecution's evidence for future use if he were to be arrested. 

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"Following informal consultations with the prosecution and the Duty Counsel, and having assessed their state of readiness, I am satisfied that both parties will be in a position to commence the special deposition proceedings by November 8, 2011," Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam, who has been assigned to conduct the proceedings, explained in a scheduling order of September 30, 2011.
According to him, the proceedings will be conducted pursuant to Rule 71 bis (K) and would continue until the depositions of all the prosecution witnesses are recorded. "The proceedings will take place from Monday through Thursday each week," the judge says in the order.
Rule 71 bis (K) states, among others, that the single judge presiding over the special hearings shall have the same powers as a Trial Chamber, while the Duty Counsel assigned to defend interests of the fugitive shall have the same rights and duties as a Defence Counsel.
During the proceedings, Tanzanian lawyer Yitiha Simbeye, who is believed to be an expert in international criminal law, will defend the interests of Bizimana, who is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or complicity in genocide, as alternative count, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Apart from Bizimana, other fugitives whom the prosecution seeks to safeguard evidence against them are Felicien Kabuga, the alleged main financier of the 1994 Tutsi genocide and ex-Commander of Presidential Guard, Major Protais Mpiranya.  
The Tribunal has already started conducting similar proceedings in Kabuga's case, while those for Mpiranya are expected to commence on October 19.
According to sources at ICTR, Bizimana is believed to be hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while Kabuga is said to be carrying out his commercial activities in Kenya, whereas Mpiranya is allegedly being protected by senior officials in Zimbabwe.


© Hirondelle News Agency