Arusha, October 23rd, 2000 (FH) -The Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Monday compared the messages of Rwandan hate-media to that of Nazi propagandist Heinrich Himmler during the Second World War: "it is them first or you". Bernard Muna said that while Himmler referred to the Jews, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) andnewspaper Kangura in Rwanda directed people to seek out and kill Tutsis.

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Muna was speaking during a Prosecution opening statement in the case of RTLM ex-director Ferdinand Nahimana, ex-politician and RTLM founder Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and former Kangura editor Hassan Ngeze. Only Nahimana was present in court. Barayagwiza says he is boycotting the trial because it will not be fair. Ngeze was also absent to protest the fact that issues of Kangura being used as evidence have not yet been translated into English and French. Muna told the court that, in the course of the trial, the prosecution would show that RTLM and Kangura were created to "ensure that as many people as possible participated in the genocide" that left some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead between April and July 1994. Both organs, he said, were used by the pro-Hutu former ruling party MRND and Barayagwiza's CDR party to incite racial tension and killings. Muna said they also published and broadcast names of people to be eliminated, and directed Hutu militias to the hiding places of victims. The ICTR Deputy Prosecutor described RTLM director Nahimana as the "high priest of Hutu supremacy". He said it was no coincidence that in April 1992 Nahimana was forced to resign from the head of Rwandan national media ORINFOR, because he was involved in propaganda that had led to the massacres of Tutsi at Bugesera. Similarly Ngeze had resigned from one newspaper, Kanguka, because he felt it was collaborating with the "enemy" and was not doing enough against the perceived Tutsi threat. Pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) guerillas began waging a war against the Rwandan government from Uganda in 1990, but the propaganda was aimed at anyone of Tutsi origin and anyone who opposed the regime. Muna described Barayagwiza as a "master of manipulating the truth". As advisor to the former president Juvénal Habyarimana and then to the interim government that presided over the genocide, Muna said Barayagwiza also "used his talent to put a gloss on such policies in international capitals". The three are accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, and persecution and extermination as crimes against humanity. Ngeze is also charged with one count of murder as a crime against humanity while Barayagwiza faces two additional charges of violating the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. Muna said that in the course of the trial, the prosecution would show that the three suspects were part of the same conspiracy to eliminate all Tutsi and all political opponents. This, he said, would be done through witness testimonies, through production of some of the suspects' own statements and strong circumstantial evidence. The Deputy Prosecutor said his team would call witnesses and documentary evidence which would show how RTLM and Kangura used propaganda to spread hate, violence and terrorism, and to show that the three suspects were the managers of these organs. Muna said he believed the prosecution would satisfy the judges that these people had a shared ideology and that they preached "a philosophy of hate", without which the genocide would never have reached such proportions. JC/FH (ME%1023f)