Arusha, April 25, 2001 (FH) Italo-Belgian former RTLM radio presenter Georges Ruggiu, sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will testify shortly in the trial of three genocide suspects linked to so-called "hate media" in Rwanda, according to the prosecution. Media Trial prosecutor Simone Monasebian of the US said on Wednesday that Ruggiu would soon be "on the witness stand".

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She was speaking during the cross-questioning of the seventeenth prosecution witness, former Kigali prosecutor François-Xavier Nsanzuwera. The case groups Ferdinand Nahimana, a former history professor who became a co-founder and promoter/director of RTLM; Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, ex-director of political affairs at Rwanda’s foreign ministry and RTLM board member; and Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper Kangura. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. They have all pleaded not guilty. During cross-questioning, Nahimana's French lawyer Jean-Marie Biju-Duval tried to demonstrate that Nahimana was not director of RTLM as the witness had claimed. The lawyer based his argument on Georges Ruggiu's letter of recruitment to RTLM, dated January 6th, 1994, and signed by "Phocas Habimana, director-general of RTLM". The witness Nsanzuwera had earlier told the court that he attended a meeting at the Ministry of Information in February 1994, which Nahimana also attended as RTLM director. "Mr. Phocas Habimana was director of RTLM during the first two weeks of February, at the time of the meeting, it was not Ferdinand Nahimana who held that position," Biju-Duval told the court. "The witness was mistaken when he said he heard Mr. Ferdinand Nahimana introduce himself as director of RTLM, and that he had been present at the meeting in that capacity. " Biju-Duval urged the court to accept Georges Ruggiu's recruitment letter as defence evidence. The prosecution argued that the letter dated from January 1994 and did not therefore prove that Phocas Habimana was director of RTLM the following month. The witness maintained that Nahimana had presented himself as RTLM director, but said he had never seen any document on the radio's management hierarchy. The question of who was really in charge at RTLM is a point that has long opposed the prosecution and defence in this case. It is one of the grey areas on which the judges will be expected to shed light at the end of the trial, observers say. Habimana appears on the current Rwandan government's latest Category One list of top genocide suspects, where he is described as director of RTLM. "I know Phocas Habimana, who must have been on RTLM's board," Nsanzuwera told the court. "So far as the organigram of the radio is concerned, I never saw it. "Georges Ruggiu, who is expected to testify shortly, was originally due to be tried with Nahimana, Barayagwiza and Ngeze. However, he was taken out of the case after he pleaded guilty to inciting genocide and to persecution as a crime against humanity. The ICTR sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment on June 1st, 2000. Another former RTLM presenter, Valérie Bemeriki, is in prison in Rwanda on genocide charges. It is as yet unclear whether she will testify in the Media Trial. Other RTLM journalists, including editor Gaspard Gahigi and presenters Noël Hitimana and Habimana Kantano, are thought to be dead. AT/JC/PHD/FH (ME0425e)