Arusha, September 12, 2001 (FH) - A turnabout prosecution witness in the so-called Media trial told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday that Hutu genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze had been "on good terms with Tutsis" before, during and after the 1994 genocide. The protected witness, only identified as "DM", seemingly took prosecution by surprise when, on reaching the dock, he refuted all allegations of wrongdoing by Ngeze.

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Ngeze is former owner and editor of the "Kangura" newspaper. He is on trial 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, a founder and alleged director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. DM told the court that at the peak of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Ngeze had told him and other people in the northwest Rwanda town of Gisenyi not to kill innocent people simply because they were Tutsi. The witness earlier told the court he was a Tutsi who had worked as a driver in Ngeze's hometown of Gisenyi during the genocide, and before that as a vendor of Ngeze's newspaper "Kangura". DM said had been tried and acquitted of genocide in Rwanda, after being arrested on December 6th, 1996. In his re-examination, prosecutor Alphonse Van of Côte d'Ivoire asked the witness questions suggesting that his testimony had many flaws and that he was a liar. After re-examination, Ngeze's co-counsel René Martel of Canada objected to additional questions put to the witness by Judge Erik Mose of Norway, saying that the judge appeared to be taking up the prosecutor's role and that this was against Tribunal Rules. "His Honour Judge Mose is playing the role of acchirondellenew_complete here," objected Martel. "I don't think that any judge can start the examination all over again. "Presiding Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa dismissed the objection saying that judges had that right to put questions to witnesses. Meanwhile, Ngeze warned the court that he would be in a dilemma when it came to his time to testify, as he didn't want to be questioned by his current lawyers, John Floyd of the US (lead counsel) and Martel of Canada. The accused told the court that he had 200 pages of testimony and would require 20 days to complete it. But, he said: " I don't want to be questioned by counsels Martel and Floyd because I don't trust them. "Judge Pillay said the Chamber would deal with that issue when the prosecution had finished its case. In April, Ngeze said he would renounce his indigent status to get the lawyers of his choice, after the court rejected his motion to have his current, ICTR-assigned team replaced. The court said Ngeze could go ahead and bring other lawyers, but he has so far failed to produce the lawyers he said he wanted. Ngeze also apologized for a period in July when he boycotted trial to protest against his defence team. " I do respect the court," he said, adding that his absence was due to "problems I have with my counsel". Ngeze further thanked the judges for allowing him to take part in cross-examination of witnesses. Ngeze has been granted permission to ask questions to three witnesses in addition to those asked by his lawyers. "This is a matter of life," Ngeze told the court. "I want to be heard. I don't want to regret later. "He complained, however, about the fact that he had had no investigator for nine months. Judge Pillay told him that this was not an absolute right. "What we can do for you is just to inquire why no investigator has been assigned," she said. The sacking of Ngeze's defence investigators is one of the reasons for his dispute with Floyd and Martel. This trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Pillay , Mose and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JC/PHD/FH (ME0912E)