Arusha, November 27, 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday denied genocide suspect Hassan Ngeze's request to cross-examine a witness after his lawyers. The judges, however, permitted Ngeze to write down questions intended for the witness, and hand them over to the bench for possible consideration.

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Ngeze is former editor of Kangura newspaper. He is on trial with two other suspects linked to "hate media" in Rwanda before and during the 1994 genocide. They are: 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. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. They have pleaded not guilty. The witness is genocide convict Omar Serushago, who has testified mainly against Ngeze and Barayagwiza. Barayagwiza is boycotting the trial. "Ngeze will write the five questions on a piece of paper and hand it to the Bench," acting presiding judge Erik Mose of Norway ruled. "We may decide to use them if we consider them relevant and admissible. "The ruling was reached as a compromise between different opinions of the two judges currently sitting on the case. The third judge, ICTR President Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, is in New York for the UN general assembly. This court (Trial Chamber One) is composed of judges Pillay, Mose and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. Judge Mose earlier found that Ngeze had not shown sufficient basis to put questions to the witness in addition to his counsel's cross-examination. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Gunawardana said that an accused had a fundamental right to defend himself, even if he had counsel. Ngeze has previously been allowed to cross-examine some witnesses in addition to his counsel's cross-examination. He says he does not trust his assigned lawyers John Floyd of the US and René Martel of Canada, and has tried unsuccessfully to have them replaced. The defence team for Nahimana on Monday objected to Ngeze putting questions to the witness. Co-counsel Diana Ellis of the UK argued that Ngeze's questions might prejudice her client. The prosecution too objected to Ngeze's request. Defence counsel for Barayagwiza Alfred Pognon of Benin supported Ngeze's request. The trial continued Tuesday with judges putting questions to prosecution witness Serushago. GG/JC/DO/FH (ME1127e)