Arusha, May 15, 2001 (FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday granted a request by genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze that he be allowed to personally cross-question prosecution witnesses, reports the independent news agency Hirondelle. The court said this was a temporary measure, pending a decision on whether Ngeze would be allowed to sack his lawyers and pay for new ones.

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"Mr Ngeze, we are inclined to afford you the request," said presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. "But this will be done under careful control of the Chamber. " Judge Pillay said Ngeze would only be allowed to cross-question the witnesses after his defence team had done so. She said defence teams for Ngeze and his two co-accused could intervene at any time "to draw attention to any matters of concern". 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 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 has asked to be represented by André Gagnier of Canada and Ngata Kamau of Kenya. The matter is currently in the hands of the ICTR Registry. Ngeze's latest request came after another ICTR detainee, former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, last week cross-questioned a prosecution witness in another trial. Bagambiki was only the second suspect to do so in the ICTR's history. He too was allowed to do so as an "exceptional measure" because he had withdrawn confidence from the lawyer representing him in court. Ngeze says he has lost confidence in Floyd and Martel, describing them as "traitors". He slammed them for dismissing his defence investigators "without valid reasons"; for not consulting with him; and said "they have treated their client as mad, even being the first to say publicly that I was unwell and that I should undergo appropriate medical tests". He said they also "asked that I be transferred to another prison so that they be easily able to carry out their machiavellian plan to represent me against my will". JC/PHD/FH (ME0515E)