Arusha, February 7, 2001(FH) The defence lawyer for genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze has called for the testimony of a prosecution witness heard Monday and Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to be thrown out. During cross-examination, Ngeze’s American lawyer John Floyd contested the credibility of protected witness WD, the fourth prosecution witness in the Media Trial which resumed on Monday.

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Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper Kangura, is being tried with two other suspects linked to media which allegedly incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The other two accused are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of the radio station RTLM, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and founder member of RTLM. WD notably accused Nahimana and Barayagwiza of plotting together against Tutsis in September 1993. The witness said he was a waiter at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, and then at the Hôtel des Diplomates. He is a 35-year-old Tutsi, member of the genocide survivors’ group Ibuka and of the Rwandan Patriotic Front RPF (former Tutsi guerilla army now in power in Kigali). The witness said that whilst serving as a waiter at the Hôtel des Mille Collines he overheard Nahimana and Barayagwiza plotting, in normal speaking voices, to kill Tutsis. He said he had overheard a conversation between them by the swimming pool in 1993 in which Nahimana had said that “If we kill Tutsis, the international community will make a fuss, but then it will die down, just as it did with Bugesera [massacres of Tutsis in March 1992] and Kibuye. ” According to the witness, Barayagwiza replied that Rwanda belonged to the Hutu majority, not to the Tutsi minority. According to WD, Nahimana and Barayagwiza also held meetings at the Hôtel des Diplomates in the days following the presidential plane crash of April 6th, 1994, and talked about killing Tutsis. Ngeze’s lawyer Floyd claimed that WD’s testimony was incoherent and that it should simply be scrapped from the record. The judges, who said that they had at first not taken his request “seriously”, promised to examine the request. ICTR detainees and their defence lawyers have sometimes accused survivors’ group Ibuka of manipulating witnesses to bear false testimony. Shortly before Floyd’s request, Nahimana’s defence team called on the witness to admit that their client had never been to the Hôtel des Diplomates between April 6th and 12th, 1994. The witness told the court that the accused had been there three times during that period. Nahimana is defended by French counsel Jean-Marie Biju-Duval and British co-counsel Diana Ellis. The lawyers expressed surprise that a waiter who would normally be serving many clients, had taken such an interest in a particular pair. Floyd asked the witness if he was a spy or whether he was perhaps expecting a tip. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial since it started on October 23rd, and ordered his lawyers to do the same. On Monday the court granted permission for his lawyers to quit the case, after he withdrew their mandate. The court ordered that he be assigned another lawyer “immediately”. Ngeze has also been boycotting the trial since it resumed on Monday. His lawyer has submitted a motion to have all charges dropped on the grounds that his rights have been grossly violated. Defence lawyer Floyd has asked the court for an evidential hearing into what happened during a security search of Ngeze’s prison cell on January 10th. Ngeze claims UN security staff took vital defence documents, violating attorney-client privilege, but the ICTR strongly denies this. The court is expected to decide next Monday on whether to allow such a hearing. AT/JC/FH (ME_0207e)