Arusha, March 6, 2001(FH) The prosecution on Tuesday accused International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze of intimidating a witness before that witness came to testify against him. The tenth prosecution witness, dubbed AFB to protect his identity, claimed to have received at his home in Gisenyi (northwest Rwanda) a letter from Ngeze, wishing him a happy Eid el Fitri (celebrations at the end of the moslem fasting month of Ramadan).

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Ngeze was at that time in ICTR detention in Arusha. The witness said that when he received the letter he was afraid, and that he had immediately informed Rwandan security officials. AFB told the ICTR that other people in Rwanda had also received the same message from Ngeze. Sri Lankan judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana asked why the prosecution had not informed the court of this before. Kenyan prosecutor Charity Kagwi said the prosecution had only been informed of it last Sunday. Monday was a UN holiday. The court said it would consider the issue later in the day, during a closed session. Ngeze is being tried jointly with two other suspects linked to "hate media" in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, who was director of political affairs at the foreign ministry of the former government, a founder member of the CDR political party and board member of RTLM. Witness AFB, who was a currency changer in Gisenyi in 1994, told the court he had attended a meeting of the CDR where people were urged to exterminate Tutsis. The prosecution says that both the accused Barayagwiza and Ngeze were influential members of the CDR. AFB said he had known Ngeze for a long period, from the time when the accused was a shoe-mender in Gisenyi town. The witness said Ngeze had then acquired a news stand selling “old newspapers”, then become a journalist with the “Kanguka” publication and later owner of “Kangura”. On the other hand, the witness admitted he had seen Barayagwiza very few times and was not sure that he would now be able to identify him. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial since it started last October 23rd. He claims it will not be fair because the ICTR is manipulated by the current Rwandan government. Italian lawyer Giacomo Barletta Caldarera, who is representing Barayagwiza against his will, tried to demonstrate that the CDR was a party like any other and did not advocate extremism. Caldarera suggested that ethnic conflicts in Rwanda dated back to the colonial period and could not be blamed on the CDR. Witness AFB’s testimony continued on Tuesday afternoon, with cross-questioning by Ngeze’s defence team. AT/JC/PHD/FH (ME_0306e)