Arusha, May 15, 2001 (FH) The lawyer for genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana, on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), accused a witness of exaggerating during testimony on Monday and Tuesday. Defence lawyer Diana Ellis of Britain suggested that the witness had come to court only to "exaggerate issues", especially her testimony on how RTLM radio incited massacres.

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Nahimana was promoter/director of RTLM. He is on trial with two other suspects accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The other two are former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and former editor of Kangura newspaper Hassan Ngeze. The ninteenth prosecution witness, dubbed BI to protect her identity, was a human rights activist in Rwanda at the time of the genocide. She had earlier told the court she listened regularly to RTLM, that in the first three weeks it had been "not very professional but very funny", but that it had then changed suddenly. She said RTLM's incitement of hatred against Tutsis was then so clear and consistent "it had become part of daily life at the time". BI said her own name had been broadcast on the radio and that she had been attacked and threatened as a direct consequence. She also said it had not been until the advent of RTLM that people could be seen walking in the streets with their transistor radios. Ellis contended that BI was exaggerating both the impact and the listenership of the radio. Defence counsel challenged the witness to explain how she could have listened to RTLM regularly when she admitted that she had travelled frequently abroad. The witness insisted that she had only travelled abroad for short periods, and that she had listened to the radio "regularly". BI admitted that she often could not remember dates because "one month resembled another" during that time in Rwanda. She told the court that between March 1998 and April 2000, she had suffered psychological problems because of "everything I suffered during the war and even before and after". Ellis asked the witness whether Rwanda would not have stayed at peace if the Tutsi rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (now in power in Kigali) had not invaded the country in 1990. The witness retorted that Ellis was talking in hypotheses. "I cannot tell you," she continued, "whether what happened in Rwanda would not have happened if the RPF had not attacked. "On Tuesday afternoon, the court began hearing the testimony of protected witness "EB", a Tutsi from the northwest Rwandan prefecture of Gisenyi. This is the home region of both Ngeze and Barayagwiza. The witness will continue his testimony on Wednesday. AT/GG/JC/PHD/FH (ME0515F)