Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former Minister in the government of the late President Juvenal Habyarimana today appeared before Trial Chamber 1, and pleaded not guilty to charges filed against her in connection with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The date of the trial will be fixed later after holding a status conference.
This was after the Prosecutor Mr. James Stewart's request for some minor amendments to the form of the indictment had been granted by the court after consultation with the Defence Counsel, Nicole Bergevin from Canada. Nyiramasuhuko, is involved in the first five counts of the indictment which has seven counts.
The Minister's son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who also appeared before the Chamber declined to plead to the charges because his assigned Counsel was not present. The Registrar's office told the court that the Counsel could not make it due to late receipt of the notification letter.
The Chamber composed of Judge Laïty Kama presiding, Judge Navanethem Pillay and Judge William Sekule, postponed the hearing and ordered the Registry to hold consultations with the Defence Counsel before a date for the initial hearing is fixed. The President of the Chamber reminded the two accused that they will have a joint trial.
The former Minister of Women's Development and Family Welfare, and her son, are jointly charged with Genocide; Complicity in Genocide; Crimes Against Humanity; and Serious Violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II.
Earlier before the same Chamber, a former Director of Gisovu Tea Factory in Kibuye Prefecture, Alfred Musema, declined to plead, because his Counsel, Marie-Paule Honegger from Switzerland, was also not present.
The Chamber ruled that it was necessary for the Counsel to appear before it as soon as possible, and ordered that the matter be settled promptly. President Kama reminded the court that the case had initially been set for 11 June 1997, before being postponed to August, for the same reason.
On Friday 5 September 1997, an extremely urgent motion by the Defence for orders for protective measures for defence witnesses to the crimes alleged in the indictment against Elie Ndayambaje will come before Trial Chamber 2.