Arusha, May 17, 2001 (FH) Former "Kangura" newspaper editor and genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze on Thursday cross-questioned a prosecution witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), amid visible court concern to protect the witness's identity. Speaking in choppy English, dressed in a grey and yellow brocaded robe and bright blue fez, Ngeze questioned protected witness EB for about one hour, amid frequent interruptions from presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and the Prosecutor's representatives.

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The interruptions sought mostly to prevent the accused covering the same ground as his co-counsel René Martel of Canada, and to protect the witness's identity. Ngeze provoked mixed bouts of laughter and silence among the public as he sought to catch the witness out, asking for details of people, places and distances related to EB's testimony. "Don't lie the court!" the accused told the witness at one point and as a last question "In Rwanda, in Kigali, do you have a school of witnesses?" EB replied that there was no such institution and that he had come to the court to tell the truth. The court granted a request from Ngeze on Tuesday that he be allowed to cross-question prosecution witnesses as a temporary measure, pending a decision on whether he will be allowed to reject his current defence team and pay for new lawyers of his choice. The court said Ngeze could conduct cross-questioning "under careful control of the Chamber", and only after his defence team had done so. Ngeze has changed his lawyers several times since his arrest by the ICTR in 1997. Earlier this year, the court rejected his request to be assigned new lawyers to replace John Floyd of the US and René Martel of Canada. Then in April, Ngeze said he had called on his friends "to intervene and provide financial assistance" so that he could pay for new lawyers, and that he was therefore renouncing his indigent status. He is still waiting for the ICTR Registry to ascertain whether the friends he has cited can meet the costs of his defence. Ngeze is on trial with former RTLM radio director Ferdinand Nahimana and with Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and board member of RTLM. The prosecution alleges that the three used the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ngeze is the third accused in the ICTR's history to be allowed to cross-examine a witness. The first was former Taba mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, who rejected his lawyers and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1998. The second was former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki who was allowed to do so by another Trial Chamber last week, also as an exceptional measure and because he had withdrawn confidence in the lawyer representing him. JC/PHD/FH (ME0517F)