Arusha, October 19th, '99 (FH) - Prosecution plans to amend the indictment of a third media suspect it wants to include in a joint trial look set to be delayed because of slow translators at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). On Tuesday, the prosecutor's office requested leave to amend the indictment of Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Hutu extremist radio station RTLM, raising the number of charges against him from four to seven.

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However Nahimana's French defence counsel, Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, complained that neither he nor his client were in a position to present a response, because of ICTR inefficiency. The last version of the current indictment (modified after various defence motions) had been confirmed on September 3rd, Biju-Duval told the court, but he did not receive the French version until midday last Saturday, one court day before the hearing. French is the working language of both the accused and his defence counsel. He also complained that he had also received the prosecutor's Request for amendement late and had not received the draft amended act at all. "I understand why my Anglo-Saxon colleagues adapt better to the procedures of this tribunal," Biju-Duval said. "They have a centuries' old tradition of being phlegmatic. Not me. "In a blistering attack, he told the court that he had been facing exactly the same problems for the last three years, and that it was a matter of principle. "Does the accused have the right to receive documents in a language he understands, yes or no?" he thundered. "Does he have the right to a reasonable time to prepare his defence, yes or no?"He also lambasted errors in the prosecution's written Request. These included not only incorrect dates but also the name of another accused and the wrong confirming judge. Trial Chamber One, presided by South African judge Navanethem Pillay, allowed the prosecution to go ahead with its presentation, but finally accorded the defence until October 26th to prepare a written response, and the prosecution until October 30th to respond. Biju-Duval said this was still not enough. Pillay said the court would not deliberate on the request until October 30th. In response to Biju-Duval's complaints, Pillay said the Chamber had heard "with great concern" his difficulties in obtaining the French version of documents in time. "This is not a new problem," she admitted. "The Chamber requires that the Registry and Court Management section investigate the matter thoroughly and bring us a report. We also require that they take action against individuals responsible for failing to carry out these essential duties. "New chargesThe three planned new charges against Nahimana are: genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination) and crimes against humanity (murder). William Egbe of Ghana, speaking for the prosecution, said the request was based on new evidence. He told the court that prosecution investigations had continued after the indictment was confirmed on July 12, 1996, and that this had produced a "substantial amount of information and evidence". Egbe said the prosecution also wanted to boost the factual content of the indictment in relation to existing charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitement to genocide. "The prosecution seeks leave to bring the totality of its evidence before the court," he continued. Egbe argued that the amendment request was justified on both a factual and legal basis. Since the beginning of the week, the prosecution has requested leave to amend the indictment of two other ICTR detainees linked to the extremist media that incited genocide in Rwanda. They are Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper Kangura, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, former foreign ministry advisor and member of the steering committee of hate radio RTLM (Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines). The prosecution had been scheduled to file a motion later this week to join these three accused in a "/media mega-trial". Georges Ruggiu, the Italo-Belgian presenter of RTLM , was originally supposed to be part of this trial, but has now been excluded. Informed sources say he is confessing to prosecutors. JC/FH (NH§1019e)