Arusha, June 19, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday disallowed a witness's testimony on rape in the so-called "Media Trial". The court said it was convinced by defencearguments that the rape incident was remote in time and place and had no direct link to any of the accused.

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Protected witness 'AES' was due to testify on sexual violence she allegedly endured from an attacker in the northwest Rwandan region of Gisenyi during the 1994 genocide. The prosecutor argued that although these acts were not committed by any of the accused on trial, they were generally a result of incitement by former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. "We are persuaded by the defence's argument that this is an isolated act allegedly perpetrated by an individual and should be treated as such," said presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. She further stated that the judges were in agreement with Ngeze's counsel that the testimony was "more prejudicial to the defence than probative to the Prosecutor's case". Ngeze is on trial with two other suspects accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Co-accused are former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana, and former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. They have pleaded not guilty. Witness 'AES' earlier in the day testified that she had seen Ngeze shoot a 25-year-old girl. AES said Ngeze had come to her neighbor's home asking why they were hiding "Inyenzi" (term for the then Tutsi rebel movement, RPF and its sympathizers). She said he was carrying a gun on his left shoulder and a megaphone in his right hand, and was accompanied by singing militias armed with machetes and clubs. AES told the court that after Ngeze's inquiry, "the neighbor brought the girl who had been hiding in the house outside. Ngeze then gave the megaphone to Interahamwe who accompanied him, took his gun and shot thegirl in chest, on the right". AES said the girl did not die of the bullet wound but was finished off by the crowd of militiamen throwing rocks at her as she lay on the ground. Before she began her testimony, AES was asked questions on the physical identity of Ngeze, while the accused remained out of the courtroom. This followed a request on Monday by Ngeze's American lawyer John Floyd that Ngeze be hidden from the witness. Floyd said there was a strong possibility that she was not familiar with Ngeze and could have mistaken him for three militia leaders named Hassan or for his brother Juma Ngeze. AES gave a physical description of Ngeze, and also identified him later after he had been brought into court. After her testimony in chief, Ngeze's counsel Floyd began cross-questioning the witness. Defence cross-examination continues on Wednesday. AES is the 23rd prosecution witness in the trial. The Trial 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 (ME0619e)