Arusha, July 5, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday rejected a motion from genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana which claimed that prosecution used third parties to contact protected defence witnesses in an intimidating way. Nahimana's French defence counsel Jean-Marie Biju-Duval had argued that prosecution broke a court order when it asked the Belgian Ministry of Justice to contact two defence witnesses.

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Belgian investigating magistrate Damien Vandermeersch subsequently summoned and questioned the witnesses. Nahimana's defence team was not informed. However, the ICTR's Trial Chamber One ruled that these two witnesses were not covered by a witness protection order and that the prosecution was merely fulfilling its duty to investigate alibi witnesses presented by the defence. The court nevertheless said it was clear that any contact with the other party's protected witnesses must be made in conformity with court protection orders. It advised them to exercise judicious professional discretion and follow the established procedure of obtaining the other party's consent before contacting such witnesses. The court said this would avoid any suspicion of interference or dishonest intentions and ensure that justice was being seen to be done. Nahimana was director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He is co-accused with two other people accused of using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda: former politician and RTLM board Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. On Thursday the court finished hearing the testimony of the 25th prosecution witness. The case is expected to resume on Monday with a new witness. AT/JC/PHD/FH (ME0705E )