Arusha, October 25th, 2002 (FH) - Genocide suspect and former media chief, Ferdinand Nahimana, was, contrary to accusations by the prosecution, opposed to the creation and the activities of the radical Interahamwe militias, a defence witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday. The witness named 'I 2' to protect his identity testified that he was a member of the provincial committee of the then ruling party, MRND that was associated with the Interahamwe.

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The Interahamwe are widely believed to have played a major role in the 1994 genocide of an estimated one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Nahimana is accused by the prosecution, among other things, of planning the creation of the Interahamwe militia. Like I 2, Nahimana was a member of the MRND committee of Ruhengeri province. In his testimony that ended last week, Nahimana denied any links with the Interahamwe. "Our committee was strongly opposed to the formation of the Interahamwe", I 2 told the court. "We believed that its activities were contrary to the objectives of our party", he added. I 2 said that Interahamwe had been founded by its leader, Robert Kajuga and one Murenzi, a former director of the state Oil Company, PETRORWANDA. Furthermore, he testified of a letter that him, Nahimana and three other members of the MRND allegedly wrote to the MRND national committee denouncing the Interahamwe. Nahimana is a founder and alleged former controller of "hate-radio", Radio-télévision libre des Mille collines (RTLM). He was also a history professor at the National University of Rwanda. He is jointly on trial with two other suspects linked with the media in Rwanda before and during the genocide. The two are: Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician, RTLM founder and board member and Hassan Ngeze, former editor of the newspaper "Kangura". The three are primarily accused of using their respective media to incite the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. I 2 continues to testify before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (Presiding), Erik Møse of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. Judge Pillay will not attend hearings next week due to commitments at the UN Security Council. GG/FH(ME-1025e)