Arusha, February 5, 2001(FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday heard two controversial defence motions in the Media Trial of genocide suspects linked to so-called hate-media in Rwanda. It said it would hand down a ruling Tuesday morning on the status of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza’s lawyers, after the accused boycotted the trial and revoked the mandate of his defence team.

2 minApproximate reading time

The court said it also hoped to make a decision before the end of the day (Tuesday) on a request from the lawyer of another accused, Hassan Ngeze, for an evidentiary inquiry into a raid on his prison cell. Ngeze is seeking to have all charges against him dismissed, on grounds that his rights have been grossly violated. Barayagwiza is a former politician and founder member of RTLM radio, which allegedly incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ngeze was editor of the newspaper Kangura. They are being tried together with former RTLM director Ferdinand Nahimana, the only accused present in court Monday. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial ever since it started last October 23rd and ordered his defence lawyers to do the same. He claims that the ICTR is manipulated by the “dictatorial anti-Hutu regime in Kigali” and that the trial is a “mockery of justice”. In an initial ruling, the court denied his defence team permission to absent themselves from court, saying that Barayagwiza had not revoked their mandate clearly and unequivocally. Both counsels contended that it was against the rules of their Bar Associations to go against the orders of their client. Co-counsel David Danielson of the US was not in court Monday. Lead counsel Carmelle Marchessault of Canada was there, but said she considered that the debate was now irrelevant as Barayagwiza had revoked his lawyers’ mandate clearly and unequivocally. She said she therefore considered that they had no place in court. Marchessault also reminded the court that both lawyers had, in answer to a question from Judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardena of Sri Lanka, earlier turned down the idea of remaining as standby counsel. The court also heard a request from Ngeze’s lawyer John Floyd of the US for an evidentiary inquiry into a UN security raid on his client’s cell on January 10th. The defence claims that vital defence documents, including witness statements and photographs, were destroyed, stolen or otherwisemade useless to the defence, sabotaging its entire strategy. The ICTR says the raid was conducted after it learned that Ngeze was running an Internet website and that photographs taken illegally in the UN detention facility (UNDF) had been posted there. The Tribunal has categorically denied Ngeze’s accusations. Ngeze refused to sign the inventory of items confiscated which lists a computer modem, photograph album and negatives. Floyd argued that the matter was “very very serious”, involving violation of attorney-client privilege and a cover-up by UN security staff. He said he had gathered “at least 12 affidavits” and wanted to produce witnesses to back his claims. Floyd urged the judges to agree, saying this was the onlyway to find out the truth and that “this goes to the heart of the rights of the defence”. JC/FH (ME_0205e)