Arusha, April 5, 2001 (FH) Genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze says he will pay for the services of lawyers he trusts so that he can fire his current defence team, paid by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the independent news agency Hirondelle reports on Wednesday. In an April 4th letter to the ICTR, Ngeze says he is sacking his lawyers John Floyd of the US and René Martel of Canada because they are "traitors".

2 min 33Approximate reading time

"Following the court's rejection of my motion to have my lawyers dismissed, and considering the risks I face if I continue to be defended by counsels who treat me as mad and cannot communicate with me, I have called for my friends to intervene and provide financial assistance, so as I can deal with the situation," writes Ngeze. He says he "solemnly renounces" his status as an indigent detainee and that: "I have chosen to be assisted before your Tribunal […] by lawyers André Gagnier from the Bar of Quebec and Ngata Kamau of the Kenyan Bar. " Both of these lawyers have represented Ngeze before, but he asked to have their assignment withdrawn. The accused has changed counsel many times since he was arrested in July 1997. Ngeze slams Floyd and Martel for dismissing his defence investigators "without valid reasons"; for not consulting with him; and says "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 says 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". Ngeze is former editor of the newspaper Kangura and is on trial before the ICTR with two other suspects linked to "hate media" that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The other accused are Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. The court rejected on March 29th Ngeze's request that the ICTR should sack Floyd and Martel and re-assign him new lawyers. On the issue of attorney-client consultations, the judges noted that: "The Chamber has observed counsel and client communicate with one another in the courtroom and on several occasions requests for time for consultations prior to cross-examination of witnesses were made and granted by the Chamber. The accused, when present in court, actively participated in his defence and his counsel appear to be mounting a vigorous defence on his behalf. "On the issue of the sacked defence investigators, the court said that Floyd's decision to dismiss them and withdraw their affidavits concerning a raid on Ngeze's prison cell was taken in consultation with the ICTR Registry and "was made on ethical considerations relating to honesty and professionalism". It also said that: "In our view, the accused has not represented accurately the facts of the departure of the four persons, wrongly attributing all as 'dismissals' and as acts of the lead counsel". Ngeze's latest move comes just after the publication of a UN report into possible detainee abuses of the system at both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY). As noted by the report, detainees can hire any lawyers they like, so long as they pay, but all ICTR detainees (and all but four at the ICTY) have been declared indigent. However, the report also notes that "both Tribunals reported difficulties in establishing whether the criteria for indigence are met or not" and that "the system as it presently stands is open to abuse". The report by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) said that "due to the lack of investigators experienced in tracing assets, most decisions of the Registrars on this matter are necessarily based on representations of the suspects/accused persons themselves". ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu told Hirondelle on Tuesday that the ICTR would implement the OIOS report's recommendation that it hire an investigator to look into detainee claims of indigence. JC/MBR/FH (ME0405e)