Arusha, February, 27, 2001(FH) - The lawyer for genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ( ICTR) on Teusday that his client could not have conspired with the Rwandan government in place during the 1994 genocide, as Ngeze himself was persecuted by that government. Ngeze is the former editor of Kangura newspaper.

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He is jointly charged with two other suspects accused of having used the media to incite killings of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Ngeze’s co-accused are former director of "hate radio" Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana, and former politician and board member of RTLM, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Ngeze’s US lawyer John Floyd told the court that his client had been arrested at least twenty times under the regime of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana for "telling the truth". " Are you aware that Ngeze was arrested, imprisoned and even tortured as a result of predicting the death of the president?" Floyd asked protected witness ABE during cross-questioning. President Habyarimana was shot down in his jet as he returned from a peace summit in 1994. Floyd said this was only one of many other incidences for which Ngeze "suffered for telling the truth". The witness acknowledged that Ngeze had been arrested once, but said he had been detained by the government to pretend that it (government) was distancing itself from Ngeze’s publication. In his testimony on Monday, witness ABE identified a cartoon in an issue of Kangura newspaper as being of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana in bed with former opposition party leader Faustin Twagiramungu. The witness said Kangura aimed at denigrating Tutsis and leaders of opposition parties. Floyd argued Tuesday that "this cartoon represents a political message, probably in bad taste, but still with a message". He explained that the cartoon was meant to demonstrate “a fraudulent deal" in which the two politicians conspired. ABE denied this, saying it was obvious from the accompanying text that the two were being ridiculed for boycotting a swearing-in ceremony of a new cabinet. The message in Kangura, said the witness, was that "instead of going to the swearing-in ceremony, these two have gone to do some shameful things". The trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JC/PHD/FH (ME_0227e)