Arusha, November 15, 2001 (FH) - Genocide convict Omar Serushago told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday he had collaborated with an accused in the commission of crimes during the 1994 genocide. "I participated in the arrest of Hassan Ngeze because we both participated in the crimes that were committed in the town of Gisenyi (northwest Rwanda)," Serushago told the court.

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Serushago was a militia leader in Gisenyi. He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in 1999 after pleading guilty to genocide before the ICTR. Serushago told the court he had known Ngeze since childhood, that they were "like brothers", and that their families were also close. Ngeze also comes from Gisenyi. Ngeze, against whom the convict is testifying, was owner and editor of the Kangura newspaper in Rwanda. He is on trial with two other accused linked to media that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the genocide. They are: founder and alleged former director of RTLM radio Ferdinand Nahimana; and former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. All three have pleaded not guilty to charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. Serushago admitted he had been recruited as an informer by the ICTR Prosecutor and that he had helped with the 1997 arrests in Kenya of seven Rwandans, including former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and Ngeze. The ex-militia leader claimed that, while in the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha, he had received a letter from Ngeze, threatening him against testifying. Serushago also said that immediately after his arrest, Ngeze had warned him against admitting that there had been genocide in Rwanda. "On my first day in detention, just when our cells were opened, Ngeze came to me and told me that 'our objective is the same: you should not accept that there has ever been genocide in Rwanda'," Serushago told the court. He is testifying in his native language Kinyarwanda. Serushago was due to begin testifying on Wednesday, but did not do so because he was sick. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JC/DO/FH(ME1115e)