Arusha, February 19, 2001(FH) Genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze has askedthe International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to replace hislawyers, saying he has lost confidence in them. Ngeze appeared in court on Monday morning, saying he wanted to “get rid of”his two lawyers, John Floyd of the US and René Martel of Canada.

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Lead counsel Floyd had earlier asked that he be allowed to raise certainissues in closed session. The court decided that the problem of Ngeze’slawyers would be discussed after the hearing of a seventh prosecutionwitness, who began testifying on Monday. In a letter this weekend to ICTR President Judge Navanethem Pillay of SouthAfrica, and of which Hirondelle has obtained a copy, Ngeze asked for theappointment of his lawyers to be withdrawn “as I no longer have confidencein the personalities of the […] Attorneys as well as in their competence torepresent me”. Ngeze had already called last Thursday for the sacking of his co-counselMr. Martel, accusing him of “hatching that plot” to fire three members ofhis defence team (a legal assistant and two investigators). The accused isalso calling for the reinstatement of the three. In his letter of February 17th, Ngeze reproaches his lawyers for requesting“unclear and undocumented adjournments” of his motion to have all chargesdropped. The motion is based on the claim that Ngeze’s rights have beengrossly violated, in particular through the alleged theft of defencedocuments during a January 10th UN security search of his detention cell. Ngeze said the Tribunal should have dealt with the motion “in limine litis”(that is, before resuming the trial), “as the defence work has beenseriously compromised because the client/attorney privilege has beenviolated by its very officials”. The search was conducted after the ICTRlearned that Ngeze had a website containing illegal photographs. Ngeze has been boycotting the trial since it resumed on February 5th afterthe judicial recess. He says his lawyers have also cut contact with himsince then, and have only visited him once since the trial resumed. Other complaints against lawyers Floyd and Martel include their withdrawalof some supporting material for the pending motion (affidavits werewithdrawn because of doubts about whether the person who verified them wasa lawyer or not), the firing of the defence assistant and investigators(partly linked to the affidavit problem) and “their incompetence toconvince the Registry and the tribunal to get in due time the translationof KANGURA”. Ngeze was former editor of Kangura newspaper. He is being tried with twoother suspects linked to media which allegedly incited Hutus to kill Tutsisduring the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, formerdirector of radio station RTLM, and Jean-Bosco-Barayagwiza, a formerpolitician and founder of RTLM. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trialsince it started on October 23rd, saying the ICTR is manipulated by thecurrent regime in Kigali. As another element of his pending motion, Ngeze is calling for all 71issues of Kangura to be translated from the Rwandan language Kinyarwandainto English and French. Prosecution has argued that the ICTR does not havethe resources to translate everything, and that the relevant extracts havealready been translated into the ICTR’s two working languages. In a separate “press release” on February 18th, Ngeze also respondedangrily to reports that the Registry had ordered a psychiatric evaluationof the defendant. “I condemn all kinds of mean maneuvers [sic] which arehatched to blur my truths with irrelevant endeavours by the Registry inconspiracy with my Lawyers and thus dilute the substance of my sound claimssubmitted to the attention of the tribunal,” Ngeze wrote. The Arusha-based news agency Internews reported last Thursday that Ngeze’slawyers were “awaiting the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation to determinewhether Ngeze is fit to stand trial”. It said the Tribunal Registry hadordered the evaluation, after approval by an ICTR doctor. Such anevaluation would, however, normally require Ngeze’s cooperation. Ngeze has been in ICTR detention since 1997. He had his first defence team,Wamuti Ndegwa and Kamau Ngata of Kenya dismissed, followed by André Gagnierof Canada and then Patricia Annick Mongo of Congo Brazzaville. AT/JC/FH (ME_0219E)