Arusha, June 18, 2001 (FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday granted a defence request that genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze should be hidden from the view of the next prosecution witness to avoid possible misidentification. "We think this is a very dangerous testimony," Ngeze's American lawyer told the court, arguing that Ngeze should be shielded from the witness's view until such time as she had given a description of him.

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He argued that "just the fact that he sits where he sits in the courtroom" could lead the witness to identify Ngeze, even if she did not know him. Witness "AES", a female rape victim, is expected to begin her testimony on Tuesday. She will be the 23rd prosecution witness in the so-called Media Trial. The case groups former "Kangura" newspaper editor Ngeze, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana, and former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. All three are accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ngeze has been accused of involvement with Hutu militias that murdered Tutsis in his home area of Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda. Floyd argued, however that there were at least three other Hassans and the accused's brother Juma Ngeze who were in Gisenyi at the time, and that his client could easily be mistaken for one of the others. He said that there were "certain things" in the written statement of witness AES to suggest she may have confused Hassan Ngeze with the others or had "only seen his picture in a publication". "We would resist this motion," argued prosecutor Stephen Rapp of the US. "I would suggest it is our burden to establish the witness's familiarity with the accused. I don't understand, simply because this is a female victim and they are very painful acts, why we should deal with things differently. (…) If the concern is that the witness may have been improperly coached, those questions can be put during cross examination. "Floyd pressed his point, however, saying that there was a "quantum difference" between previous witnesses and this one, who was traumatized and "peeping through a crack". He said this was a classic case where identity could be mistaken. "The Chamber would like to accommodate your concern, Mr. Floyd," said presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. At Floyd's suggestion, she said Ngeze would be kept in an ante-chamber as the witness was brought in and at the beginning of her testimony. The court instructed that prosecution should "ask questions regarding the person she says is Ngeze" but that the rest of the testimony and cross-questioning should then take place in the presence of the detainee. JC/PHD/FH (ME0618e)