Arusha, November 25th, '99 (FH) - UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that "there are no scapegoats here, there are criminals who are being brought to justice". Del Ponte was speaking as the prosecution presented arguments for a joint trial of two defendants linked to the media.

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The two are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the extremist newspaper Kangura. Both media were used to incite Hutus to kill Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. "We are not holding trials for the press," Del Ponte continued, "we are conducting them against accused individuals and we will produce the evidence". The Chief Prosecutor was reacting to Nahimana's French defence counsel Jean-Marie Biju-Duval who expressed the fear that "political and public relations concerns might be taking precedence over the pursuit of justice". Biju-Duval had told the court that "Mr Nahimana should not be a scapegoat for a trial that can never take place". He said the Prosecutor had chosen not to arrest other journalists involved in media propaganda at the time, such as Radio Rwanda and Radio Muhabura which was used by the Tutsi rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front that took power after the genocide. Until recently, the "/media trial" was also expected to include Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a founder of RTLM and the extremist Hutu CDR party, and Italo-Belgian RTLM presenter Georges Ruggiu. However, Ruggiu has been confessing to prosecutors, and the ICTR Appeal Court on November 3rd ordered Barayagwiza's release on grounds that procedures had been repeatedly violated during his initial detention in Cameroon and after his transfer to the ICTR prison in Arusha. The Appeal Court laid blame squarely on the Office of the Prosecutor, saying "it appears that the Prosecutor's failure to prosecute this case was tantamount to negligence". The Appeal Court decision provoked demonstrations in Rwanda and the announcement that Kigali was "suspending" cooperation with the Tribunal. Swiss Chief Prosecutor Del Ponte, who only took up her post on September 15th, had planned a first visit to her office in Kigali this week to try to help defuse the crisis. However, Rwanda has so far denied her a visa. Del Ponte arrived in Arusha on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Muna (Cameroon) and Chief of Prosecutions Mohamed Othman flew to Arusha from Kigali. Muna also took the stand this afternoon, along with the regular prosecution team led by Indian Senior Trial Attorney Sankara Menon. On Thursday night it was still not clear whether Del Ponte would go to Rwanda or not. As Prosecutor for both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), she is normally based in The Hague, Netherlands. JC/FH (ME§1125e)