Arusha, February 3, 2010 (FH) - The trial of former Minister of Planning Augustin Ngirabatware before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is proceeding at such a slow pace as to increase concerns it won't be finished, as required, before the end of the year.

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The UN Security Council has asked the ICTR to wind up all initials trials before December 31, 2010.

Charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, Ngirabatware allegedly encouraged massacres of Tutsis in his hometown of Nyamyumba (Gisenyi prefecture).

Among other accusations, the indictment alleges that Ngirabatware diverted funds from his ministry to the then ruling National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), money which was used for the purchase of weapons for the party's youth wing, the Interahamwe militia.

The Chamber heard only two Prosecution witnesses since the trial resumed on January 25. The second, a former militiaman dubbed AN-AN to protect his identity, still stands in the witness box. He is expected to finish his testimony on Thursday.

The pace of the proceedings contrasts sharply with others trial, where sometimes four witnesses are being heard in a single day.

On the first day of his testimony, AN-AN claimed that the defendant had distributed weapons in Nyamyumba commune three months before the genocide.

Since, Lead Defence Counsel Peter Herbert has been trying to highlight contradictions in declarations made by the witness before the Rwandan justice and the ICTR.

The current session is expected to last until March 12. Prosecution Lead Counsel Wallace Kapaya intends to call to the bar 17 witnesses. Only six witnesses were heard during the last session which ended on October 22.

The trial of Ngirabatware, who is a son-in-law of a Rwandan businessman accused of having been the financier of the 1994 genocide, Felicien Kabuga, began on September 23, 2009. Kabuga is among the suspects most wanted by the ICTR.

Arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007, the former minister has been in the custody of the ICTR since October 8, 2008. He holds a doctorate in economy from the University of Freiburg, Switzerland.


© Hirondelle News Agency