Arusha, June 25, 2001 (FH) - A scheduled prosecution witness in the so-called Media Trial on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he would not testify after all. This is the first time that a witness has desisted from testifying after arriving at the Tribunal's seat of Arusha.

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Prosecutor Stephen Rapp of the US told the court that the witness had prayed the previous night and come to the conclusion, as a good Moslem, that "certain facts he had testified (in his statement to prosecution investigators) were incorrect and he does not wish to testify". The prosecutor said that up until Monday morning, protected witness "AAW" had co-operated and showed no signs that he would not testify. Prosecution told the court it would be presenting a motion to have AAW's protection lifted, as he no longer had witness status. This witness was expected to testify against former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze, one of three accused in this case. Rapp said that defence was welcome to put questions to the witness, who was in court. Ngeze's lawyer John Floyd of the US asked for time to consult his client and to prepare for the testimony of the next witness. He asked that AAW be kept in Arusha until Tuesday while he decided if AAW could be a witness for the defence. Court proceedings were suspended until Tuesday morning, when prosecution is expected to bring a new witness, dubbed "AEU". This person will be the 25th to testify in the case. Ngeze is co-accused with former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. All three are accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They have all pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanityThe case is before 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. GG/JC/FH (ME0625e)