Arusha, June 19, 2001 (FH) - Alleged former militia leader Arsène Shalom Ntahobali has asked that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) allow him to cross-question prosecution witnesses, saying he has no confidence in his lawyers. Ntahobali is one of six accused on trial for genocide in the southern Rwandan region of Butare in 1994.

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The request came late Tuesday as the court was deciding in which order the six defence teams would cross-question the first prosecution witness. Last Friday, Ntahobali argued a motion asking for the replacement of his lawyers René Saint-Léger (Haiti/Canada) and James Michael Bailey of the US. The accused asked that he be allowed to represent himself until he is assigned new lawyers. The court has not rendered a decision on that motion. Ntahobali is co-accused with his mother, former Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. The others are former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. On Wednesday morning, defence lawyers began cross-examining the first prosecution witness, ICTR investigator Shukri Gandhi of Jordan, who has been presenting maps and photographs of alleged crime sites since last Wednesday. Since the trial started last Tuesday, the court has frequently allowed Ntahobali to make objections to prosecution arguments. His lawyer Saint-Léger told the court last Friday that "we hope to re-establish channels of communication with the accused very shortly". The case is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. AT/JC/FH (BT0620E )