Arusha, March 15, 2001(FH) - The trial of three suspects linked to media that incited genocide in Rwanda was suspended Wednesday for lack of prosecution witnesses. It is expected to resume Monday.

1 min 56Approximate reading time

Prosecutors had earlier explained that two witnesses had been unable to come to Arusha as planned, one because his wife was sick and the other because he was attending a conference in Paris. Prosecutor William Egbe said this amounted to exceptional circumstances. The testimony of Rwandan MP and former journalist Adrien Rangira ended Wednesday with the court warning the witness. Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said he must answer questions from the defence, otherwise he risked having his whole testimony rejected. Rangira had been refusing to answer questions from British lawyer Diana Ellis, co-counsel for Ferdinand Nahimana, the former director of "hate-radio" RTLM. Nahimana is being tried with ex-politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and former Kangura newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. Rangira, who began testifying on Monday, was frequently reluctant to answer questions on the political situation in Rwanda, saying he had not come to be interrogated. Ellis suggested that the witness had a "selective memory" and that he was not being frank with the court. The witness insisted several times that the defence lawyers should shorten their cross-questioning, because, he said "I have other things to do, I do not work for this Tribunal". Judge Erik Mose of Norway told him that some questions may seem repetitive, but that they were necessary and that Rangira should reconsider his position. At one point, Rangira looked at his watch, and, seeing that it was early evening, said he was refusing to answer any more questions. "I’ve lost lots of time, I am not prepared to continue," he said, adding that "you won’t get anyone to testify in future". He said that a genocide had occurred in Rwanda, and that issues of the current political situation were not important to the court. "I am not prepared to cooperate with people who say the genocide was justified," Rangira continued. Judge Pillay told him that the questions were in order and that he should reply, whether he liked them or not. Prosecutor William Egbe told the court that the witness felt harassed by the defence. Heated exchanges had also taken place earlier between Rangira and Ngeze’s Canadian co-counsel René Martel. Barayagwiza’s co-counsel Alfred Pognon of Benin had been expected to cross-question the witness after Ellis, but finally decided not to. "I am satisfied with Ms. Ellis’s questions," he explained, "although not with the answers. "Rangira’s testimony in chief was led by prosecutor Alphonse Van who also had heated exchanges with defence counsel, as both parties made objections. At one point Judge Pillay had to call the parties to order. Adrien Rangira testified on RTLM radio and the Kangura review. He said RTLM was directed by Nahimana, to which the defence responded that it was really run by Phocas Habimana. Rangira said that had not been his understanding and that the information needed checking. AT/JC/FH (ME_0315e)