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Trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu enters final phase

Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Bourgmestre of Taba commune in the Gitarama prefecture, who is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions, will testify in his defence on Thursday 12 March 1998.

His testimony will mark the end of testimony by Defence witnesses in the trial which began on 9 January 1997 before Trial Chamber 1. So far, 28 Prosecution witnesses and 12 witnesses for the Defence have testified in the case.

The Prosecution is expected to make its final submission on 19 and 20 March 1998 while the Defence's final submission will be a week later. Judgement, the first in the history of the Tribunal, is expected to be delivered before mid this year.

The Prosecution will try to convince the court that Akayesu, who was responsible for maintaining law and public order in his commune was by his acts or omissions responsible for the killings of Tutsis in Taba commune, where 2,000 people were killed, thus committing genocide. This will be the first time that the crime of Genocide will be argued before an International Tribunal.

The trial is one of three which are currently going on before the two Trial Chambers of the Tribunal. The other trials are in the cases of The Prosecutor vs. Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana and The Prosecutor vs. Georges Rutaganda.


Prosecution Files Motion for an Adjournment of the Trial of Bagosora

The Prosecutor today filed a motion for an adjournment of the trial of Theoneste Bagosora which was scheduled to begin on Thursday 12 March 1998 before Trial Chamber 2. The Prosecutor argued that the disclosure of evidence to the Defence ordered by the Trial Chamber was not yet complete "due to the size of the disclosure task, the need to edit materials, and lack of resources."

The Prosecutor further argued that it was crucially important in the administration of justice that the Kayishema and Ruzindana trial before the same Chamber be permitted to continue to its conclusion without being interrupted by the commencement of a new trial proceeding. Ruling on the motion will be delivered later.

Bagosora, who was Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Defence in Rwanda. is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions.

The accused assumed official 'de facto' control of military and political affairs in Rwanda after the death of Rwandan President Habyarimana. He was arrested in Cameroon on 9 March 1996 and transferred to Arusha on 23 January 1997. He pleaded “not guilty" to the charges during his initial appearance on 20 February 1997. He is defended by Counsel Raphael Constant from France.


Kayishema/Ruzindana Joint Trial

Prosecution is completing the witnesses testimonies this week, in the joint trial of Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana. A total of 51 witnesses testified in the case which began on 9 April 1997 before Trial Chamber 2. The Defence has requested it begin its case on 1 June 1998. Ruling on the request will be made later.

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