Arusha, May 28, 2012 (FH) – The defence for former Rwandan Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware has challenged the decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), denying the accused to call extra witnesses, but at the same time allowing prosecution to reopen its case.

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In its first instance decisions of May 18, 2012, the Tribunal allowed the prosecution to call one more witness to rebut Ngirabatware’s defence of alibi over his absence in Rwanda at some point during genocide, but denied him to call five witnesses in attempt to rejoin the rebuttal evidence.

The defence, in its two separate motions filed on May 25, 2012, seeks certification to appeal the decisions, delay the testimony of the prosecution witness and stay of presentation of closing arguments scheduled for June 18 and 19, 2012, pending determination of the applications.

“The decision to grant the reopening of the rebuttal leads to an unjustified advantage for the prosecution and leads to unfairness and prejudice to the accused,” one motion reads in part.

It adds, “Under these prejudicial circumstances, the accused will be confronted to an unfair advantage given to prosecution while his request for rejoinder was dismissed. This differential treatment runs against the principle of equality of arms and is against the interest of justice.”

In another motion, the defence submitted that the decision denying Ngirabatware to call the five witnesses was wrong in law and facts and “constitutes an abuse of power or discretion on part of the Trial Chamber that resulted in an injustice for the accused.”

In January 2011, Ngirabatware requested the Trial Chamber presided by Judge William Sekule to disqualify itself from the case on the grounds that it was biased. His motion was ruled out against him.

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.