Arusha, December 6, 2001 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the "Media trial" at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday walked out of court in anger, after complaining that she was being insulted. AgnèsMurebwayire, a former Radio Rwanda journalist, was under cross-examination by British lawyer Diana Ellis, who suggested that the witness was lying.

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The witness, 36th in this case, has testified mainly against Ellis's client Ferdinand Nahimana, a founder and alleged former director of "hate radio" RTLM. Nahimana is on trial with two other people linked to media which incited Hutus against Tutsis before and during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ellis suggested that Murebwayire's testimony was not credible. The witness, visibly angry, accused the lawyer of "getting fat" at the expense of victims of the genocide. "Madame is getting paid on the backs of our dead," she fired at Ellis. "If Nahimana hadn't killed our people, she would not be there. " Murebwayire then stormed out of the courtroom, threatening not to return. Presiding judge Erik Mose of Norway called a senior official from the ICTR's Witness Protection Unit and asked him to take care of the witness who had, remarked the judge, "become emotional". He asked Witness Protection to take care of her and explain that "she has not at all been accused of being a liar, we are in the process of questioning her". However, Judge Mose said she should also be told that "she is in the middle of her testimony and the court expects her to fulfil her testimony. If she does not, it will not be looked on favourably". Ellis said witnesses "are here to answer questions", and not to give "speeches". "If they are allowed to make speeches," she argued, "they get worked up into a hysteria". She said the defence believed that "some witnesses have come here to lie" and that they must be allowed to test their evidence. She said it was up to the judges to stop the questioning ifthey considered it inappropriate. Prosecutor Simone Monasebian called for Ellis to be sanctioned for her treatment of the witness. However, Ellis said the problem had arisen because prosecution kept interrupting cross-examination "inappropriately" and upsetting the witness by making comments "that should not be made in front of a witness". Nahimana is on trial with former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and former "Kangura" newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. Ngeze's Canadian lawyer René Martel asked the court to throw out Murebwayire's testimony, saying that "the witness has been caught red-handed. She spoke angrily and theatrically. "Since the trial opened in October 2000, at least two previous prosecution witnesses have threatened to walk out during cross-questioning, but then changed their minds. AT/JC/DOFH (ME1206 E)