The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu before the Trial Chamber 1 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which began on 26 September with the review of preliminary motions and should have resumed on 31 October, has been adjourned to 9 January 1997.
The Belgian lawyer Johan Scheers, who had been appointed the defence lawyer of Jean-Paul Akayesu had excused himself and had asked the Trial Chamber 1, composed of the Presiding Judge Laïty Kama, Judge Lennart Aspegren and Judge Navanethem Pillay to be represented by the American lawyer Michael Karnavas.
Michael Karnavas stated that he started working on the case with Johan Scheers three weeks ago. He requested a delay of six months to prepare for the defence, arguing that he had not had time to idetify and question witnesses and that this task would be made very difficult in view of the present situatuion in Zaire. He added that furthermore he had not received from the Prosecution all the documents which are material to the preparation of the defence.
Judge Laïty Karna stressed that the rights of the defence were sacred and asked for clarification as to who was the defence Iawyer since the Rules of Procedure and Evidence make allowance for oniy one counsel. Jean-Paul Akayesu was asked whom he chose to be his counsel and he answered that he now chose Michael Carnavas, adding that he also wanted to keep Johan Scheers on the counselling team.
The Prosecution stated that they were ready to go to trial and that it was of the utmost importance to start immediately.