Arusha, May 17, 2001 (FH) Genocide suspect and former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze was expected to cross-question a prosecution witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday, but some doubt remained about how the procedure would be conducted. 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.

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However British counsel Diana Ellis, representing co-accused Ferdinand Nahimana, told the court on Wednesday that its decision had not been understood in the same way by all defence teams, because of a translation problem. Ngeze is on trial with former "hate radio" director Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and board member of RTLM. All three are accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Before granting Ngeze's request, presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa invited prosecution and defence to speak, but nobody did so. Ellis told the court that neither side had understood the invitation which was clear in English but not in the French translation. Judge Pillay and Ms Ellis are English speakers, but the lead prosecutor and the other defence representatives present in court that day are French-speaking. Ellis suggested that the prosecution and Ngeze's Canadian co-counsel René Martel be heard before Ngeze be allowed to put questions to the twentieth prosecution witness, dubbed "EB" to protect his identity. The Chamber's decision was that Martel cross-question the witness first. Martel on Thursday morning proceeded with the cross-questioning of EB, who testified mainly against Ngeze. EB accused Ngeze of participating in the massacre of Tutsis in his home region of Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. Martel had first tried to have EB's testimony thrown out, arguing that it was based on hearsay. The court suggested he should test the witness's credibility during cross-questioning. 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 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. JC/MBR/FH (ME0517e)