Arusha, October 19, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has postponed to Monday the start of closed door hearings to preserve evidence in the case of one of its most wanted genocide suspects, Major Protais Mpiranya. The new start date was announced after a brief status conference on Wednesday.

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"The court adjourned to next Monday for the hearing of the first prosecution witness,'' said Nounou Diallo, Coordinator of the Chamber.

Mpiranya was Commander of the Presidential Guard at the time of the 1994 genocide. The publisher of his memoirs, Editions Sources du Nil, claims that he is dead, but ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow believes he is still alive and  hiding in Zimbabwe.

Mpiranya is accused of participating in the planning, preparation and execution of the 1994 genocide. Forces under his command were allegedly responsible for the murder of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and ten Belgian UN  peacekeeping soldiers.

The closed door hearings are meant to preserve evidence in case Mpiranya is caught and brought to justice one day.

The prosecution is expected to call to the stand around thirty witnesses. All hearings will be held in camera. A Defence lawyer assigned by the ICTR Registry will be entitled to cross-examine witnesses and lead defence investigations.

Mpiranya was born in 1960 in Giciye (Gisenyi prefecture, northwest Rwanda). A graduate of the Superior Military School of Kigali, he trained in Germany and France before becoming commander of the Presidential Guard Battalion in 1993.

The Tribunal has already started conducting similar proceedings in the case of most wanted fugitive Félicien Kabuga, believed to have been the main financier of the genocide. Evidence preservation hearings are also expected to start soon in the case of wanted ex-Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana, who is allegedly hiding in the DRC.  


© Hirondelle News Agency