Arusha, November 13, 2001 (FH) - Judges of the International CriminalTribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday rejected a defence request to liftidentity protection for a prosecution witness in the so-called "Mediacase", but also agreed that the witness could testify behind closed doors,according to informed sources. American lawyer John Floyd for the accused Hassan Ngeze had argued that thewitness, dubbed "ABH" to shield his identity, was a public figure in Rwandaand that his protected status should be lifted.

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The court heard Floyd'sarguments in closed session. Prosecutor Steven Rapp of the US had earlier told the court that ABH wishedto testify in closed session for security reasons or, failing that, to havehis voice scrambled. The court said in open session that it would prefervoice scrambling to a closed session, and that closed-door sessions shouldbe the exception rather than the rule. However, it has subsequently orderedthat the testimony remain closed. The trial groups three suspects linked to media that incited Hutus to killTutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are: Ferdinand Nahimana,founder member and alleged former director of Radio-Télévision Libre desMille Collines (RTLM); Jean-Bosco-Barayagwiza, former politician and RTLMboard member; and Ngeze, who was editor of the newspaper Kangura. Witness ABH is testifying mainly against Ngeze, on the basis of a newwitness statement made last August. The court earlier rejected Floyd'sarguments that the witness should not be called at all, because prosecutionhad changed its mind on the nature of the testimony and had not provideddefence with ABH's new statement in adequate time. The witness had made twoearlier statements, in 1996 and 2000, against RTLM. ABH is the 31st prosecution witness in this case. After him, the nextwitness is expected to be former militia leader Omar Serushago, who wassentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to genocide beforethe ICTR. The trial has been running since October 23rd, 2000 before the ICTR's TrialChamber One, composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa(presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of SriLanka. It resumed on Tuesday after a seven-week adjournment, during whichthe court started the case against former Seventh Day Adventist pastorElizaphan Ntakirutimana and his doctor son Gerald. In the Ntakirutimanas'trial, the Chamber managed to hear all 19 prosecution witnesses in 27 trialdays. JC/DO/FH (ME1213f)