Arusha, December 3, 2001 (FH) - Defence in the genocide trial of three former media personalities on Friday challenged the memory of a prosecution witness, especially on whether the accused Ferdinand Nahimana was introduced as director of "hate radio" RTLM. Belgian journalist Colette Braeckmann had earlier told the court that Nahimana was introduced as director of RTLM at a public debate in Kigali in March 1994.

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The defence position is that a certain Phocas Habimana, and not Nahimana, was the director. But Nahimana's French lawyer Jean-Marie Biju Duval challenged Braeckmann's testimony, saying she seemed to have only a vague memory of the events. Under cross-questioning from Biju-Duval, Braeckmann admitted: "I am not 100 percent certain that he was introduced as the director of RTLM. But everyone knew he was. Either the moderator said it or someone else (…), everyone knew that he was speaking in that role. "Biju-Duval suggested that Nahimana could have been introduced as former director of state media body ORINFOR, as a university professor, as a future minister, or simply as a founder of RTLM. Braeckmann replied: "I refuse to give you a categoric response. I think it's closer to the truth if I say I do not think so. "Biju-Duval also contested the words the witness had attributed to Nahimana, claiming they were in fact spoken by somebody else. Braeckmann was in Kigali for a seminar on journalism ethics, which was preceded by the public debate. The witness said Nahimana spoke in favour of a politically active press in times of conflict, whereas she said she thought journalists should remain "neutral". She said Nahimana had defended "a free reign for freedom of opinion". "Your memories are hazy," suggested Biju-Duval, "and you don't actually remember what he said. " The lawyer stressed that "there is not more than one truth". However, Braeckmann replied: "There is one truth. That is, that when he spoke everyone knew. There was no doubt either among the panel or the public. His official title is one thing. But the fact he was considered as the founder, the person in charge of RTLM was obvious. ""I don't mean he was speaking in the name of RTLM," she nevertheless conceded, saying that RTLM had been represented at the debate by editor in chief Gaspard Gahigi. Braeckmann completed her testimony on Monday morning. A new witness, the 35th, is expected to begin testifying on Tuesday. Nahimana is on trial with two other people linked to media that incited Hutus against Tutsis before and during the 1994 genocide. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed between April 6th, when the former president's 'plane was shot down, and mid-July, when the pro-Tutsi RPF took power. Nahimana's co-accused are former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and former Kangura newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze. AT/JC/DO/FH (ME1203E)