Arusha, September 23, 2002 (FH) - Founder member and alleged de facto leader of 'hate-radio', Radio-télévision Libre des Mille collines (RTLM), Ferdinand Nahimana, on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he never had control over the radio's broadcasts. Nahimana was on his fourth day of testifying in his own defence.

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Nahimana and two other suspects linked to the media in Rwanda before and during the 1994 genocide are jointly charged with using the media in Rwanda to incite killings and hatred of ethnic Tutsis. The two others are; former editor-in-chief of the defunct alleged Hutu extremist newspaper "Kangura", Hassan Ngeze, and founder member of hard-line Hutu party, Coalition pour la defense de la République (CDR) and member of the board at RTLM, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. Nahimana testified that as a member of the RTLM "Comité d'initiative", a committee that oversaw the radio's operations, he had no control over editorial affairs. Prosecution witnesses have accused Nahimana of planning and sometimes drafting reports that were broadcast on radio RTLM. At the height of the genocide, RTLM broadcast lists of Tutsis that were supposedly accomplices of Tutsi-led (Rwandan Patriotic Army) RPA rebels and sometimes called for their killing. The prosecution charges that such broadcasts were responsible for many killings of Tutsis. Contrary to the prosecutor's case, Nahimana's defence says that he had no connection with RTLM at the time. Nahimana also rejected accusations that RTLM had been founded to mobilise Hutus against Tutsis. "Our aim as stated when we founded it was to create a forum for political discussion(…) make commercial gains from advertisements and to counter propaganda by the RPF radio. " RTLM first went on air in mid 1993. Furthermore, Nahimana denied prosecution allegations that, as chief of the National Information Office of Rwanda (ORINFOR), he dismissed Tusti employees on the basis of their ethnicity. Giving an example of a former reporter of Radio Rwanda (a part of ORINFOR), Agnes Murebwayire, Nahimana said that her suspension was a result of her own unethical conduct. "She was moved to the archives section (…)she refused to work there and didn't show up at work", said Nahimana. "I'm not the person who asked her to be absent for that period", he added. Nahimana also denied allegations that there had been a list of Tutsi employees to be dismissed from ORINFOR. Nahimana continues to testify before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judges Pillay of South Africa (Presiding), Erik Møse of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/FH(ME-0923e)