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New delay in trial for Rwandan general’s shooting

The trial for the shooting of an exiled Rwandan general in South Africa was delayed Thursday after the magistrate fell ill, dragging out the diplomatically sensitive case.

Three Rwandans and three Tanzanians are accused of attempting to kill former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa outside his Johannesburg home on June 19, 2010. They have all pleaded not guilty.

“I’m telling you this case is jinxed,” said South African prosecutor Shaun Abrahams of a trial that has been repeatedly delayed because of translation troubles, faulty court equipment and on Thursday a sick judge.

The state’s first witness, Rwandan national Kalisa Mubarak, began testifying about the events that took place on the day of the shooting, but the magistrate cut short the hearing after less than an hour.

Mubarak testified on Wednesday that one of the accused, Rwandan national Amani Uriwani, had told him that Rwandan “military men” from Europe with lots of cash and cars had asked for help “to shoot at a military person”.

The key suspect in the case is Rwandan businessman Pascal Kanyandekwe, who allegedly offered South African police a bribe of one million dollars when they arrested him in July 2010.

He is also accused of plotting to kill Nyamwasa while he was hospitalised after the shooting.

Kanyandekwe and four men linked to the hospital plot are expected to appear in a separate case in the Johannesburg Magistrates court next month.

Nyamwasa has kept a low profile since the shooting. His driver, Rwandan national Richard Bachisa, has also been charged in the case, along with Tanzanians Hassann Mohammedi Nduli, Sady Abdou and Hemedi Denengo Sefu.

The case has strained relations between South Africa and Rwanda, which wants to bring Nyamwasa home to serve a 24-year prison sentence after a military court convicted him in absentia of desertion, defamation and threatening state security.

Spain and France are both seeking to extradite him for his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed. He has denied the charges.