Arusha, April 9, 2001 (FH) – The notorious former Rwandan radio station Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) opposed the 1993 peace accords between the government and Tutsi guerrilla Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. The witness, dubbed "GO" to protect his identity, is a Hutu man who was an official in the Information Ministry of the former government.

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He is the sixteenth prosecution in the trial of three genocide suspects linked to "hate media" which incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. The defendants are former RTLM director Ferdinand Nahimana, former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and former editor of Kangura newspaper Hassan Ngeze. GO said he was mandated by former Information Minister Faustin Rucogoza to monitor RTLM's broadcasts, and that the radio called people to oppose the August 1993 Arusha peace accords. Because of this, GO continued, Rucogoza called RTLM's directors to two meetings in November 1993 and February 1994 to discuss the problem. He said RTLM was represented at the February 1994 meeting by its president, businessman Félicien Kabuga (wanted by the ICTR), by Nahimana and Barayagwiza. "The peace accords had recently been signed in Arusha, and we hoped that peace would be restored," said GO. "What is sad is that RTLM didn't want peace, but rather it preached against these peace accords. " He said minister Rucogoza tried to tell RTLM's representatives that "it's impossible to build peace while preaching hatred". GO said he had been present at the meetings and that RTLM's directors denied the minister's accusations, especially at the February 1994 meeting. He said Nahimana argued that the Arusha agreement was not a peace accord but a trap intended to "neutralize the achievements made by the people in 1959". This refers to the so-called Hutu revolution of 1959 which preceded Rwanda's independence and the advent of a Hutu-led government. According to GO, Nahimana said RTLM would continue defending the interests of the Hutu majority for as long as the RPF radio station Radio Muhabura continued to defend Tutsi interests. He alleged that both Nahimana and Barayagwiza said they could not understand how some Hutus could not see the "Tutsi trap". GO said Barayagwiza took the same line as Nahimana but was "angrier and more insistent". GO told the court that RTLM played songs urging Hutus to "deal" with the Tutsi who wanted to "bring them back to servitude". However, neither the witness nor the prosecution were able to produce minutes of the meetings, saying that records had been destroyed during the genocide. Defence lawyers pointed out that the witness had nevertheless been able to produce other documents relating to the meeting, including the minister's speech. They said this cast doubt on the testimony and showed a "total lack of transparency". The court said this problem could be dealt with during cross-examination. The trial 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 (ME0409e)