Arusha, July 9, 2001 (FH) - Genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze says he is boycotting his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) over the court's refusal to replace his lawyers. Ngeze was absent from court on Monday.

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"If the Tribunal does not assign a duty counsel to my defence, and my investigators and assistants are not reinstalled to work with me, there will be no interest for me to attend the trial any more as from this Monday9th July 2001," Ngeze wrote in a letter to ICTR President Navanethem Pillay on Saturday. Ngeze is former 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 FerdinandNahimana, former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member. Barayagwiza has been boycotting the trial since it started last October 23rd, saying it will not be fair because the ICTR is manipulated by the current Kigali government. Ngeze says he has lost confidence in his current lawyers John Floyd of the US and René Martel of Canada. In his letter to Judge Pillay, he says that "the dispute I have with the lawyers assigned to my defence is basically about my investigators and assistants they dismissed without prior consultation with me at the most critical time of my trial". The court turned down his earlier request that he be assigned new lawyers by the ICTR. In April he responded that he was renouncing his indigent status and wanted to pay for new lawyers with the help of "friends". Ngezesaid he wanted André Gagnier of Canada and Ngata Kamau of Kenya as his new counsel. Last month, Judge Pillay, who is also presiding judge in the trial, told him that the ICTR Registry had written to these lawyers, but that Gagnier had refused and Kamau had not replied. However, she told him: "You are freeto call the counsels you want. "This case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Pillay, Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. Ngeze's boycott comes after another court, Trial Chamber Two, granted the request of ICTR detainee Arsène Shalom Ntahobali to have his lawyers dismissed on the grounds that he had lost confidence in them. The court ordered the ICTR Registry to assign Ntahobali new lawyers, and to give him a duty counsel in the meantime. "I request the Tribunal to give me the same treatment as Shalom Arsène Ntahobari to be assisted by a duty Counsel while awaiting the final solution," says Ngeze in his July 7th letter to the ICTR President. "If this is done, it will allow the procedure to continue its normal course. The Tribunal will have full authority to select the duty Counsel. "His counsel John Floyd of the US told the court on Monday that he had noted the absence of his client but had not received any correspondence from him regarding the boycott. GG/JC/FH (ME0709e)