Arusha, November 27, 2001 (FH) - Defence lawyers on Tuesday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to throw out the testimony of genocide convict Omar Serushago in the so-called "Media trial", on grounds that it was "manufactured". Serushago is a former militia leader sentenced to 15 years' in prison after pleading guilty to genocide before the ICTR.

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He is also a self-confessed informer for the ICTR Prosecutor. The Media trial groups three suspects linked to "hate media" that fuelled the 1994 genocide in Rwanda: Hassan Ngeze, former editor of Kangura newspaper; Ferdinand Nahimana, alleged director of Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a founder of the CDR party and board member of RTLM. Serushago testified mainly against Ngeze and Barayagwiza, but said all three accused were members of a "death squad". In an oral motion to the court, Ngeze's American lawyer John Floyd said Serushago's evidence should be thrown out because it was "preposterous, replete with dishonesty" and because the witness had "contradicted himself at so many different levels and on so many different occasions". Floyd suggested that Serushago was not credible because he was in the pay of the Prosecutor, had got only a 15 year sentence for genocide and had his family relocated with the support of the Tribunal. He said that if a collaborator testified in the US, his evidence had to be corroborated from an independent source. Barayagwiza's co-counsel Alfred Pognon of Benin backed the call to have Serushago's testimony thrown out. He told the court that the witness was himself an actor in the crimes and had been set up to do whatever the Prosecutor wanted. At the end of his testimony, Serushago asked the Tribunal to "organize my evacuation from Arusha as quickly as possible, for my security". Mali, Benin and Swaziland have reached agreements with the ICTR to take Tribunal convicts. Mali is expected to be the first country to receive some. The Media case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding but temporarily absent), Erik Mose of Norway (acting president) and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. The judges are to deliberate on the motion. AT/JC/DO/FH (ME1127F )