Arusha, February, 15, 2001(FH) International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze said in a statement Thursday that he wanted his new Canadian co-counsel René Martel fired over the sacking of three defence investigators, reports the independent news agency Hirondelle. But lead counsel John Floyd of the US told Hirondelle that Ngeze had no power to sack Martel.

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"There is zero chance, and I say zero that he [Ngeze] can do it", said a visibly angry Floyd. “I’m the lead counsel and I won’t fire him [Martel]. " Floyd also said that he [Floyd] had fired the investigators himself. In a letter dated February 15th, Ngeze accused Martel of “hatching that plot” to sack the investigators, and told Floyd: “I assume that from now on, Attorney René Martel is no longer my Counsel”. The accused also said Martel had, as a lawyer, violated his code of conduct by "not coming to see me to study the case with me and get instructions on how to defend it before the court despite my request to do so". The Arusha-based Internews agency meanwhile reported that Ngeze’s lawyers were “awaiting the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Ngeze is fit to stand trial”. It said the Tribunal Registry had ordered the psychiatric evaluation, after approval by an ICTR doctor. Ngeze has been boycotting his trial since Monday last week, claiming that his rights have been grossly violated. Among other things, he claims that UN staff stole, copied or destroyed vital defence documents during a security search of his prison cell on January 10th. The detainee also claims that this was done in complicity with the current Rwandan government and that his whole defence strategy has been “sabotaged”. In the wake of these claims, Floyd submitted a motion to have all charges against Ngeze dropped. He called for an evidentiary inquiry into the January 10th security search, on the basis that attorney-client privilege had been violated. However, the court submitted a number of questions, and Floyd asked on Thursday for more time to research them. Floyd also told the court on Thursday that he was withdrawing affidavits submitted in defence of Ngeze’s allegations that documents were stolen from his cell. Floyd said this was because there was “an ongoing fight about the person who verified them, whether he was a lawyer or not”. The credentials of one of the sacked investigators, Joseph Bemba of Congo Brazzaville, have been under investigation by the ICTR Registry. Internews reported that “all the affidavits, except for Ngeze’s, were certified by Bemba, as a lawyer of the Brazzaville Bar”. The other two sacked investigators are Rwandans James Bucyana and Joseph Nzakunda. According to Internews, Nzakunda was one of the affidavit signatories and suspected to be a close relative of Ngeze. The other signatories were ICTR detainees Gerard Ntakirutimana, Shalom Arsène Ntahobali, Tharcisse Muvunyi, Francois-Xavier Nwonenye, Alfred Musema and Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda. Hassan Ngeze is former editor of the Kangura newspaper. He is jointly accused with two other suspects linked to media which allegedly incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are: former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana and former politician and RTLM board member Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. Barayagwiza has also been boycotting the trial since it started on October 23rd. The so-called Media 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. JC/GG/PHD/FH (ME_0215g)