General Romeo Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) peacekeeping force, will appear as a witness for the Defence in the Jean-Paul Akayesu trial on Monday 23 February 1998. The Akayesu trial is one of the three ongoing trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established for the prosecution of persons responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Two trials will resume simultaneously on Monday 9 February 1998 in the two Trial Chambers of the Tribunal: the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu in Trial Chamber I and the joint trial of Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana in Trial Chamber II.
The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu, former bourgmestre of Taba in the prefecture of Gitarama, resumes with the hearing of new witnesses called by the Defence. In this second phase of the trial important testimonies are expected, in particular that of General Dallaire. On 13 January 1998, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, partially waived the immunity of General Dallaire so that he can testify in the Akayesu trial concerning the offenses alleged to have been committed by the latter. (See ICTR Update 005 of 15 January 1998).
In the course of this trial, which commenced on 9 January 1997, 28 prosecution and three defence witnesses have already testified. The three defence witnesses are prisoners who are in custody in Rwanda and their testimonies were obtained through the cooperation of the Government of Rwanda which authorised their temporary transfer to the ICTR at the request of the Tribunal.
Jean-Paul Akayesu is represented by defence lawyers Nicolas Tiangaye (Central African Republic) and Patrice Monthe (Cameroon). He is charged with Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, and Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions. In an amended indictment issued by the Prosecutor on 17 June 1997, Jean-Paul Akayesu is also charged with acts of sexual violence committed against female civilians.
The first phase of the joint trial of Clement Kayishema, former Préfet of Kibuye and Obed Ruzindana, formerly a businessman in Kigali, has not been completed and will resume with the hearing of prosecution witnesses. Thirty-six prosecution witnesses have already testified since the trial began on 9 April 1997. About fifteen other prosecution witnesses are expected before the close of this first phase of the trial.
The accused, Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana, are represented, respectively, by defence counsels André Ferran with Philippe Moriceau (both from France) and Pascal Besnier (France) with Willem Van der Griend (Netherlands). They are jointly accused of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and Serious Violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II for their alleged participation in the killings which took place in the Kibuye Préfecture of Rwanda from April to July 1994.
Obed Ruzindana is also being prosecuted in another case involving the attack on Mugonero hospital in the Gishyita commune of Kibuye préfecture. A date has not yet been set for the commencement of this second trial.
All the accused entered a plea of "not guilty" during their initial appearances. The two trials mentioned above are public and will begin at 9:30am.