Arusha, March 8, 2001(FH) Defence lawyers’ complaints that prosecution witnesses are insulting them, and witness’s concerns for their own security seem to be an ongoing trend in the so-called media trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The debate resurfaced during the hearing of a tenth prosecution witness, who testified Tuesday and Wednesday before the court.

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Canadian lawyer René Martel, co-counsel for former Kangura newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze, complained that the witness had twice insulted him during Tuesday afternoon’s hearing. The witness, dubbed AFB to protect his identity, accused Martel of wasting time asking "useless" questions because he was paid by the hour. Martel had notably revealed that the witness used a false name, thus casting doubt on his credibility. The lawyer also asked AFB to look him in the eyes during cross-questioning, to allow a better assessment of the witness’s gestures and reactions. But the witness complained that such a request could be a threat to his security, and that Martel had "hidden reasons" for his request. "It was not me who set the desks out like that," said the witness, adding that the defence might "perhaps want to take photographs of me" and use them out of court. AFB, like other protected witnesses at the ICTR, was screened from the public gallery by a dark curtain, and could be seen only by the judges and the parties. Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa assured AFB that all the necessary measures had been taken for his protection. However, the witness expressed doubts about this. He said that his security might be assured in Arusha, but not in Kigali or Kenya, where he often travelled on business. AFB said he had been a money changer in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda in 1994, and now ran a shop. The witness had previously complained that he received a letter from the accused Ngeze prior to his testimony, and that he considered this to be intimidation. Judge Pillay told AFB to discuss the matter with the ICTR’s witness protection unit. Another prosecution witness in the same trial (the seventh) last month refused to answer a lawyer’s questions, saying he had "had enough". This followed a heated exchange, during which the lawyer and witness went as far as calling each other stupid. Ngeze is jointly accused with two other suspects linked to "hate media" in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) radio, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and board member of RTLM. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial since it began last October 23rd, claiming that it will not be fair because the ICTR is manipulated by the current Rwandan government. The trial continued Wednesday and Thursday with the testimony of an eleventh prosecution witness, partly behind closed doors to protect her identity. AT/JC/PHD/FH (ME_0308e)