Arusha, April 10, 2001 (FH) - A former Rwandan Information Minister and four officials in his ministry were killed because of their stiff opposition to broadcasts by Radio-Télévision Libre de Milles Collines (RTLM) which they felt were promoting ethnic hatred, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday. The sixteenth prosecution witness was testifying in the trial of three suspects accused of using media to fuel the 1994 genocide.

1 min 50Approximate reading time

They are former RTLM director Ferdinand Nahimana, former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and former editor of Kangura newspaper Hassan Ngeze. The witness, dubbed "GO" to protect his identity, was an official in the Information Ministry of the former government. He said former Information Minister Faustin Rucogoza was killed in the first days of the genocide, along with his wife and children, after trying to call RTLM to order. "RTLM's broadcasts mentioned minister Rucogoza's name often," GO told the court, "especially after he sent them a warning letter. " The witness said Rucogoza had been compiling a file on RTLM to bring before the cabinet, but that he had been killed in the meantime and that his death was "surely the result of broadcasts on RTLM, which called him an Inkotanyi [term used for members of the Tutsi rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, RPF]". GO said four other officials in the ministry, including director-general Pie Nzeyimana, had also been killed because of the conflict with RTLM. The witness said he himself escaped death because RTLM officials did not know where he lived, and that he hid at home throughout the killings in April to July 1994. He added that during this period, the radio announced names of people who were to be killed, and stated that these people should be sought from their hiding places. He cited the example of two people in Gisuma commune (Cyangugu prefecture, southwest Rwanda), who were lynched by the population after the radio had accused them of being RPF collaborators. GO told the court that RTLM had started as a commercial radio station but that "in fact it was created to prepare the genocide and make sure it was carried out". He said that it caused him pain to remember its broadcasts during the genocide and that "the cruelty that RTLM taught under Nahimana's directorship is comparable to that of the Nazis against the Jews". On the third day of GO's testimony in chief, defence lawyers for the accused raised further complaints about the origin of various documents attributed to the Information Ministry. Photocopies of such documents were identified by the witness, but prosecutors were unable to produce the originals. The court ordered the prosecution to continue trying to locate the original documents. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. SW/JC/PHD/FH (ME0410e)