Genocide suspect Ntaganzwa's trial pushed to March next year

The Specialised Chamber for International Crimes at the High Court yesterday postponed the hearing of Genocide suspect Ladislas Ntaganzwa to March, after the accused prayed for more time to prepare his defence.
Genocide suspect Ntaganzwa leaves court after the hearing yesterday. (Nadege Imbabazi.)
Genocide suspect Ntaganzwa leaves court after the hearing yesterday. (Nadege Imbabazi.)

The Specialised Chamber for International Crimes at the High Court yesterday postponed the hearing of Genocide suspect Ladislas Ntaganzwa to March, after the accused prayed for more time to prepare his defence.

Ntaganzwa was extradited to Rwanda in March this year following his arrest in DR Congo, on an indictment issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The accused, who appeared yesterday before High Court in the company of his lawyer Laurent Bugabo, informed the judge that he had had a short time to go through the indictment and prepare for his defence.

Ntaganzwa, who is on remand, is among other charges accused of participating in genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crime against humanity.

Asked whether he was ready for the trial to begin in substance, Ntaganzwa said he only got the full dossier last week from prosecution, hence calling for court to give them three more months.

His lawyer Bugabo chipped in and told court that it would be unfair to start defence straight away, considering that prosecution had taken nearly nine months to conclude their investigations.

“We also want to call the court to heed to our request as we prepare for the defense, we will need time to do our own investigations, get our own witnesses and crosscheck facts with regards to the prosecution submissions,” he added.

Prosecution spokesperson Faustin Nkusi, who is prosecuting the case, said the defendant could be granted time provided that no other objections come up when the next hearing is called to ensure the trial starts in its substance as soon as possible.

“We are okay, if the defence team is given time on the other hand, they should also avail to us the list of the envisioned witnesses since we will share ours too,” he told court.

Speaking to The New Times, Nkusi expressed concerns that the Genocide suspect was again, like many with the similar cases, applying delaying tactics to drag the case, which he said only benefits the accused and his lawyers.

The presiding judge, Antoine Muhima, told the pleaders that court will resume on March 6, but warned defence not to attempt to drag the case any longer.

Ntaganzwa, a former Bourgmestre (mayor) of Nyakizu Commune, now in Nyaruguru District was one of nine Genocide masterminds who were indicted by the ICTR but had not yet been arrested by the time it closed, hence handing the indictments to Rwanda.

He was one of the Genocide suspects under the Reward for Justice Programme of the US Government with a USD five million bounty.

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