Arusha, September 10, 2001 (FH) - Former editor of "Kangura" newspaper Hassan Ngeze on Monday cross-questioned a prosecution witness in his genocide trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The court allowed Ngeze to put questions to the witness after he said he had not spoken to his lawyers since March.

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Ngeze is on trial with two other suspects accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. His co-accused are Ferdinand Nahimana, a founder of the Radio-T‚l‚vision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) radio and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. Ngeze's Canadian co-counsel Ren‚ Martel told the court that he had been to the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) last Friday but that his client refused to meet him. The accused's defence lawyers say that this has been happening for the past few months. Dressed in grey and yellow flowing robes and a red fez, Ngeze adressed questions to the witness in English. This is the second time he has been allowed to conduct cross-questioning after his lawyers. Ngeze suggested that the twenty-ninth prosecution witness, dubbed "AHI" to protect his identity, was testifying so as to get his death sentence commuted. AHI has been condemned to death for genocide by a Rwandan court, despite pleading guilty. He has appealed his sentence. Ngeze wanted to know what lessons the witness had learned from the events of 1994, to which AHI replied that he had asked God for forgiveness. AHI further said he had come to tell the truth, and that he had been called to the witness stand by the ICTR Prosecutor. Court transcripts in hand, Ngeze challenged the witness on some of his statements during his earlier testimony in chief. When the witness failed to confirm them, Ngeze remarked that the court would evaluate his contradictions, and that the transcripts were the authoritative version. AHI had earlier accused Ngeze of directing attacks against Tutsis in the northwest Rwandan town of Gisenyi and of helping to distribute arms. Ngeze suggested that there had been many other Hassans in the town and that AHI was confused. However, the witness maintained that he knew Ngeze well. After Ngeze's cross-questioning, presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa asked why he had not given his questions to his defence lawyers. "I do not trust them, I do not work with them, " he replied. However, Judge Pillay told him that he would have to work with them, as he would only be allowed to question witnesses under exceptional circumstances. Ngeze tried to reply but was silenced by the court. Ngeze is represented by John Floyd of the US and Ren‚ Martel of Canada. However, after the court rejected a motion to have them replaced, he asked that he be allowed to renounce his indigent status and pay for lawyers of his choice. He seems to have been unable so far to bring the lawyers he says he wants. AT/JC/PHD(FH (me0910E)