Arusha, May 23, 2001 (FH) Genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana was the real boss of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a prosecution witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) on Wednesday. Witness Thomas Kamilindi, a Rwandan journalist, told the court that RTLM's structure was provisional because no General Assembly of shareholders had been called to decide on a permanent one.

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"It's true that Mr. Nahimana in particular had no official position in that provisional structure," Kamilindi told the court. "But he was the real ideologue, the brains and strategist, he was all of those things at RTLM. And that made him the de facto boss who gave the orders… orders that could not be disobeyed. "The question arose over an interview that Kamilindi conducted with former RTLM presenter Valérie Bemeriki in 1999, just after her arrest in Rwanda on genocide charges. Nahimana's British lawyer Diana Ellis had asked the witness on Tuesday if he remembered Bemeriki saying that Phocas Habimana was her boss, and that he himself had said neither Nahimana nor co-accused Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza had had an official position at RTLM. The defence for Nahimana maintains that their client was not the director of RTLM as alleged by the prosecution. The witness said he could not remember, but was later offered the chance to listen to the tape and comment. "In effect," Kamilindi told the court on Wednesday, "Valérie Bemeriki says somewhere in her interview with the press: 'What I did at the time I did under pressure from one of my bosses and under pressure from the regime that was in place at the time. ' Question: 'And who were they, your bosses?' Answer: 'My boss was Mr. Phocas Habimana. '"On the second point, the witness said he had commented that "Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, both considered to be the real ideologues of RTLM but who had no official position in that radio, are in the hands of the ICTR in Arusha. "In response to a question from Barayagwiza's lawyer Giacomo Barletta Caldarera, Kamilindi said that "RTLM was created in a military perspective dating from 1991, as part of a strategy drawn up by the military hierarchyand which sought to answer the question of how to conquer the enemy (the Tutsi rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front which invaded Rwanda in 1990) on the military front, the political front and the media front,""But the journalists of RTLM who were my friends," the witness continued, "committed the professional error of being drawn into that partisanship and not having had the courage to follow their consciences… or rather, their consciences dictated what they did… but they should not have been drawn into that partisanship in that conflict, out of respect, and they should have respected journalism ethics. "Caldarera had wanted to know whether RTLM could not be seen as a response to "an equal and opposite campaign" by the RPF radio, Radio Muhabura. In her re-examination the prosecutor wanted to know whether Kamilindi had noted any ethnic references when he had listened to Radio Muhabura. "In the broadcasts that I was able to hear, it's true that the terms Hutu and Tutsi were used," he responded. " But I never heard any insinuating descriptions of the two ethnic groups, or use of the longstanding prejudices. "Kamilindi told the court that ambiguous language was often used in Rwandan culture, but played down the possibility that RTLM's messages could have been misinterpreted. "Errors of interpretation are possible," he said, "but an error of interpretation cannot be made by people who are living in their own culture. "It is still unclear whether former RTLM presenter Bemeriki, detained in Rwanda, will come to testify in this case before the ICTR. However, the court set a date of August 20th for the hearing of former RTLM presenterGeorges Ruggiu, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the ICTR after pleading guilty to inciting genocide. Kamilindi is the 21st prosecution witness in the case of Nahimana, former politician and RTLM board member Barayagwiza and former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial since it began last October 23rd, and his lawyers are representing him against hiswill. AT/JC/FH (ME0523e)