ICTR Trial Chamber I, composed of Judge Laïty Kama, presiding judge, Judge Yakov Ostrovsky and Judge Lennart Aspegren, meeting on Thursday, 6 March 1997, set the firm date of 18 March 1997 for the commencement of the trial of Georges Anderson Rutaganda.
The Chamber had received a motion from the Prosecutor for a two-week delay in the commencement of the trial of Rutaganda until 25 March 1997.
In support of his request, the Prosecutor argued among other things that new members had joined the Prosecutor's Office to reinforce the team working on the Rutaganda case.
At the time of rendering its decision, the Chamber stressed that it was time the trial started.
During the presentation of his request on 4 March 1997, the Defence had explained that the Tingi-Tingi refugee camp had been attacked on 2 March 1997, and that they were unable to locate the said witnesses. However, the emergency motion raising these issues had been filed by the Defense on 17 February .The substance of the Defence's request was therefore null and void.
In its decision, motivated by the concern to ensure full respect for the rights of the accused and to achieve an equitable resolution of the matter, the Chamber issued the order that:
(i) Every effort should be made to assist the Defence to locate the 16 witnesses mentioned in the request dated 15 February and separate them from the main body of refugees;
(ii) The cooperation of States, the United Nations system including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and all other organisations, capable of providing assistance in the matter, should be sought to that end;
(iii) The said witnesses should be placed under the protection of the Tribunal as soon as they are located and separated from the other refugees.
And directed the Registrar to execute the present order immediately and report back to the Chamber on its implementation.