Arusha, March 20, 2001(FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday rebuked prosecutors in the so-called Media Trial for being unprepared and wasting court time. The prosecution was due to introduce its thirteenth prosecution witness in the case, but the parties spent three-quarters of an hour arguing over whether the witness should have identity protection or not.

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Prosecutors contradicted themselves, once saying that the witness had already been accorded protection and then saying that he should be granted it during that hearing. A representative of the ICTR Registry then came forward with information to clarify the situation. The judges considered that the court had ordered identity protection for this and other witnesses on July 13th, 2000, although the prosecution had not consulted the records. Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said the court was disappointed at the prosecution’s lack of preparedness and warned prosecutors to ensure that such a situation did not reoccur. The Prosecutor is represented in this case by William Egbe of Cameroon, Alphonse Van of Côte d’Ivoire, Charity Kagwi of Kenya and Simone Monasebian of the US, all of whom were present in court. . Following the controversy, the court decided that the witness would start his testimony Wednesday morning, with his identity protected. The witness is dubbed "AAG". The Media Trial groups three suspects linked to media which incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of "hate radio" RTLM, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, ex-politician and board member of RTLM, and Hassan Ngeze, former director and editor of the newspaper Kangura. Barayagwiza’s co-counsel Alfred Pognon of Benin had insisted that the witness’s identity protection should be lifted because, according to the lawyer, he had several times testified openly before courts in Rwanda. Pognon argued that witness protection was sometimes based on "unjustified fears" and could be "contrary to the manifestation of the truth". Pognon is assisting Italian lawyer Giacomo Barletta Caldarera, both of whom are defending their client against his will. Barayagwiza has been boycotting his trial since it began last October 23rd, claiming that it will not be fair because the ICTR is manipulated by the current Rwandan government. Pognon, a member of Avocats sans Frontières ("lawyers without borders") was defence lawyer for Rwandan Archbishop Augustin Misago, who was acquitted of genocide charges on June 15th last year. The lawyer is still involved in the defence of a former Appeals Court judge accused of genocide in Rwanda. AT/JC/FH (ME_0320E)