Arusha, June 21, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday rejected a defence motion to have a witness's testimony struck off the record, saying that it would "not view motions such as this with favour in the future". Presiding Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said the motion, filed by US attorney John Floyd on behalf of genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze, was flawed in "procedure, timing and substance", and that there was no provision in the ICTR Rules for such a motion.

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Floyd had sought to have the testimony of the 23rd prosecution witness, "AES", struck from the record on the basis that there was no proof of "corpus delictus" (proof of death). AES testified that she had seen Ngeze, in the company of militias, shoot a girl during the genocide. The witness said Ngeze had called his victim "Inyenzi" (derogatory term for Tutsis), that she did not die immediately and was then stoned to death by militia. AES said she fled as the militias were stoning the girl. She was able to describe the victim, but not to give her name or any other details. Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper "Kangura", is on trial with two other suspects accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. Defence counsel for the other accused also argued in favour of Floyd's motion. Judge Pillay said that the ICTR Statute did not have any "rule or requirement or practice for the production of the body, or the body of the crime, particularly not in the light of the crimes for which the ICTR was created; particularly genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of Article Three common to the Geneva Convention". In its unanimous decision, the court also reprimanded defence counsel for their arguments during the hearing of the motion. "It is wholly inappropriate to ask the judges to pronounce an evaluation of the testimony while the trial is proceeding," said Pillay. "The timing of the motion in our view is wholly premature," Judge Pillay also said, "in the light of defence counsel's argument that the evidence of this witness is not corroborated. This witness has completed her testimony, but the prosecution case is ongoing. There is still time for the Prosecutor to call witnesses in to corroborate her testimony. "The 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. It was adjourned until Monday when the 24th prosecution witness "AGK" will continue his testimony. GG/JC/PHD/FH (ME0621f)