Arusha, February, 20, 2001(FH) A defence lawyer for International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana said during cross questioning on Tuesday that her client had no power to hire and fire employees when he was director of the National Information Office of Rwanda (ORINFOR). Nahimana’s British co-counsel Diana Ellis indicated that such power lay with ORINFOR’s board of directors and that her client had only been able to make suggestions.

1 min 45Approximate reading time

She was speaking during cross-questioning of prosecution witness AGR, dubbed as such to protect his identity. AGR testified on Monday that Nahimana had on several occasions sacked or persecuted employees for no apparent reason except that they were Tutsi. He also said that Nahimana had hired only people from his own region of Ruhengeri, northwest Rwanda, and had not hired any Tutsis. AGR, the seventh witness for the prosecution, was a journalist at ORINFOR when Nahimana was director, from early 1991 to 1992. Under cross-questioning, AGR said that candidates were selected by a jury, comprising representatives from all ORINFOR’s sections, and that the names of the best ones were then sent to the director, who studied it and then sent it on to the board. "The director looked at the list and made comments indicating whether he accepted a given candidate,” the witness told the court. “The board had the power to recruit people at a lower level, while people at middle-level were hired by the Public Service Ministry, and those at higher level by presidential decree. ”Defence lawyer Ellis noted that ORINFOR board was composed mainly of people from different political parties from Nahimana. She also tried to show that most senior posts at ORINFOR were not held by people from Ruhenegeri, thus countering accusations that her client was racist. The ICTR has a mandate to try people accused of gross violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda and neighbouring countries in 1994 only. However, the prosecution said it had brought this testimony in response to a defence pre-trial brief claiming that Nahimana had never discriminated against Tutsis. After leaving ORINFOR, Nahimana later co-founded and was director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). He is jointly accused with two other suspects linked to so-called “hate-media” in Rwanda: Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper Kangura, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, former director of political affairs at Rwanda’s foreign ministry and board member of RTLM. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. They have all pleaded not guilty. The Trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JC/FH (ME_0220e)