Arusha, March 7, 2001(FH) Genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza’s new co-counsel, Alfred Pognon of Benin, on Wednesday made his first appearance in the case before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Pognon, a former head of his country’s Bar Association and lawyer for Avocats sans Frontières (Lawyers without Borders) in Rwanda, is assisting Giacomo Barletta Caldarera of Italy.

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Both lawyers are defending their client against his will. Introducing himself to the court, Pognon said he had defended former Rwandan Archbishop Augustin Misago in a much-publicized case in Rwanda. Misago was acquitted of genocide charges on June 15th last year. Pognon said that he was still involved in the defence of a former Appeals Court judge accused of genocide in Rwanda. Asked if this might interfere with his duties at the ICTR, Pognon replied that it would not. 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 "dictatorial, anti-Hutu régime in Kigali". He ordered his lawyers to boycott the trial, and finally withdrew the mandate of his previous counsels, Carmelle Marchessault (Canada) and David Danielson (US) under pressure from the court. Barayagwiza was director of political affairs at the foreign ministry of the former Rwandan government, a founder of the CDR political party (considered hardline pro-Hutu) and a board member of the "hate radio" RTLM. He is being jointly tried with two other suspects linked to so-called hate media in Rwanda: former RTLM director Ferdinand Nahimana and former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. In November 1999, the ICTR Appeals Court ordered Barayagwiza’s release on the grounds that his rights were continually violated during initial detention and transfer to Arusha, but the Court reversed its decision after the Rwandan government suspended its cooperation with the Tribunal and the Prosecutor presented “new facts”. Barayagwiza’s ex-defence team say they conducted investigations in Cameroon, where the accused was initially detained, and that the Prosecutor’s "new facts" were based on false documents. A Cameroon court ruling is still pending on this. JC/PHD/FH (ME_0307e)