"The Registrar has appointed me as Lead Counsel for the accused," Dimitri told Presiding Judge William Hussein Sekule during a court session at the resumption of the ex-minister's trial on Monday.
Dimitri, who was co-Counsel for the accused takes over from British Peter Herbert, who left the Tribunal under undisclosed circumstances two weeks ago. His last court session took place on February 3, 2012, when the trial was adjourned sine die for lack of defence witnesses. When asked on the matter, the spokesperson of the Tribunal, Roland Amoussouga, said that the removal of Peter Herbert was announced in a confidential decision by the Registry.
Dimitri becomes the third Lead Counsel to represent the defendant. The first was American Professor David Thomas, who was discharged by the accused in July 2009. It was reported that Thomas was turned down on grounds that the accused had lacked confidence on him.
Hearing of the case resumed on Monday with the testimony of protected defence witness DWAN 114, who was an observer with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in Kigali and later Gisenyi prefectures.
The last but one witness testified through video link from Vienna, Austria. The trial continues Tuesday.
Ngirabatware is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.
He was arrested in Germany in connection with the charges on September 17, 2007 and transferred to ICTR custody in Arusha, Tanzania on October 8, 2008. His trial took off on September 22, 2009. A doctor in economics, the former minister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
© Hirondelle News Agency