Arusha, September 15, 2000 (FH) Uncertainty still hung Friday over whether the long-awaited media trial would start Monday as planned before the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) . We don't know what is going to happen on Monday, said John Floyd, American lawyer for Hassan Ngeze, the former editor of extremist newspaper Kangura.

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We all have to wait and see. Ngeze is one of three accused due to go on trial, along with Ferdinand Nahimana, the former director of hate-radio Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, former politician and founder member of RTLM. The three face charges of conspiracy and incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity. Hate-media played a large part in inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. David Danielson, American co-counsel for Barayagwiza, said he was expecting the trial to be postponed but no formal decision to that effect had yet been taken. His client argues that various issues need to be settled before the trial can start. Barayagwiza has called for two of the three judges of the Trial Chamber to withdraw, following a recent visit to Rwanda which he says casts doubt on their impartiality. The two judges concerned are ICTR President Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Vice-President Eric Mose of Norway. Their visit to Rwanda included a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame andvisits to two massacre sites. Barayagwiza had also contested the decision to join his case to that of Nahimana and Ngeze. In another motion, he continued to seek his release on procedural grounds, saying the prosecution had misled the Appeals Court in its March decision to overturn an earlier release order. However, the Appeals Court on Thursday rejected these motions. The French defence counsel for Ferdinand Nahimana told Hirondelle news agency that he would contest any delay in starting the trial. Jean-Marie Biju-Duval said his client had been in custody since 1996 and had already waited too long. The defence lawyer said that if the prosecutor was not ready on Monday, he would demand that the case be dismissed. Observers expect that the court will sit on Monday as scheduled, to hear motions from the accused, and/or for a formal opening of the trial, which would then be suspended for several weeks. Informed sources cite preparation of the evidence and translation problems as causes of delay. The judges are also due to attend a plenary session in Britain shortly with judges of the International Criminal tribunal for former Yugolsavia (ICTY). This plenary session is also likely to delay the start date of the so-called Cyangugu trial, also set for September 18th. This trial groups former Transport Minister AndrÚ Ntagerura, former prefect of Cyangugu (southwest Rwanda) Emmanuel Bagambiki, and the former Cyangugu military commander Samuel Imanishimwe. On the even of the media trials expected opening, press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) called on the ICTR to inflict heavy prison sentences on Barayagwiza, Ngeze and Nahimana accused of inciting the murder of thousands of people through their media. In a statement on Thursday, it said this would serve as a deterrent against similar initiatives inRwanda or elsewhere. RSF also said it hoped that "this trial will shed light on the mechanisms which allowed the creation and development of an extremist press which was particularly odious and dangerous. An ICTR defence investigator, who requested anonymity, said RSF's statement violated the rights of the accused, in particular the presumption of innocence. AT/JC/FH (ME%0915e)