Arusha, September 21st, 2000 (FH) - Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday adjourned hearings in the media case until Tuesday next week, so as to deliberate on a number of motions brought by the defence. Three of the motions were brought by the defence of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, while the counsel for Ferdinand Nahimana and Hassan Ngeze brought one motion each.

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The three media personalities are charged with having used private radio station Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM) and newspaper Kangura to incite Hutus to ethnic hatred and killings during the 1994 genocide against Tutsis. Barayagwiza and Nahimana are alleged to have been founders of RTLM while Ngeze was the editor of Kangura. In their motions, the lawyers for Barayagwiza challenged the present indictment against their client, saying it had several defects. In particular, they argued that the indictment refers to crimes committed before 1994 and which are outside the Tribunal's mandate. Barayagwiza’s lawyers are also seeking to have their client tried separately. American co-counsel David Danielson told the court on Wednesday that Barayagwiza planned to call Hassan Ngeze as a witness, and that this would be difficult to do if they were in the same trial. Lawyers for Nahimana and Ngeze were protesting the belated disclosure of material that is to be used in the trial. They say they should either be given more time to study it, or that it should not be allowed as evidence. On Tuesday, the court rejected a motion from Nahimana seeking to have two of his judges withdrawn from the case. His defence had argued that Judges Navanethem Pillay (South Africa) and Eric Mose (Norway) would not be impartial because they had sat on the judgement of former RTLM presenterGeorges Ruggiu. Ruggiu was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment after admitting to crimes against humanity and inciting genocide. He is expected to appear as a witness in the media trial. Nahimana’s defence had argued that Judge Pillay’s impartiality was further in doubt because she had expressed negative opinions about RTLM when she sat on the case of former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu. The court found, however, that it was “not unusual for a judge to hear different cases where the same witnesses give evidence, which should require the Judge to assess the credibility of such witnesses independently in each case. ” Judges also noted that current practice does not allow that judges can be disqualified from hearing a case by virtue of having made findings in another case. The motions are being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Pillay, Mose and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. The long-awaited media trial had been scheduled to start on September 18th, but the court decided to postpone it in order to hear pending motions which it deemed important. It is still unclear when the trial proper will start. MK/JC/FH (ME%0920e)This report was produced in cooperation with Internews