Arusha, October 25th, 2000 (FH) - Defence lawyers in the trial of three genocide suspects linked to hate-media in Rwanda on Wednesday urged the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) not to admit the evidence of a first prosecution witness. Witness Philippe Dahinden told the court on Tuesday that Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) "killed" Tutsis during the 1994 genocide and that he believed the accused Ferdinand Nahimana was the "driving force" behind the radio.

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Nahimana, who was director of RTLM during the genocide, is on trial with Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM founder, and Hassan Ngeze, who was editor of the newspaper Kangura. Ngeze's American lawyer John Floyd contested the admissibility of a videocassette recorded by the witness, which had not been disclosed to the defence before Dahinden testified. Floyd urged the court to sanction the prosecution for violating ICTR Rules. The videocassette shows interviews that the witness conducted with Nahimana and with RTLM editor Gaspard Gahigi during a visit to Rwanda in August 1993. Nahimana's lawyers demanded that all references to events before 1994 should be "struck off" the record. The ICTR's jurisdiction, according to its Statute, is limited to the calendar year 1994. As part of his testimony, Philippe Dahinden spoke of the role played by Radio Rwanda, of which Nahimana was head at the time, in 1992 massacres of Tutsis in Bugesera (south of Kigali). The defence said this was also outside the mandate of the Tribunal, and that this testimony was based on hearsay. However, ICTR Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Muna argued that elements relating to pre-1994 were to demonstrate "a deliberate line of conduct". The court is expected to render a decision Thursday afternoon. Nahimana is defended by French lawyer Me Jean-Marie Biju-Duval and his English co-counsel Me Diana Ellis. AT/JC/FH (ME%1025g )