Arusha, September 21, 2002 (FH) - Genocide suspect and founder member of 'hate-radio", Radio-télévision libre des Mille collines (RTLM), on Friday denied inciting the killings of about 300 ethnic Tutsis in 1992 in Bugesera region, South Rwanda. At the time of the Bugesera killings, Nahimana was director of the Rwandan National Office of Information (ORINFOR).

1 min 31Approximate reading time

The prosecution has accused Nahimana of authorising the broadcasting of a tract that, according to the prosecutor, sparked the killings of the Tutsis. The tract, supposedly written by Tutsi rebels, had a list of prominent Hutu personalities that were to be assassinated by the rebels. Nahimana told the court that contrary to prosecution allegations, the killings had been sparked off by a political rally staged by an opposition party. He said that an editorial read several times over the national radio was meant to keep people "vigilant". "The editorial didn't mention Tutsi or Bugesera", he argued. Nahimana also said that prior to the Bugesera events, the government had been warned of political "hot beds bound to explode". Bugesera, he said, was among the areas mentioned. Nahimana has since Wednesday been testifying in his defence. He is the first defence witness. Earlier in the week, Nahimana denied prosecution allegations that he had been involved in anti-Tutsi students' organisations in his school days. The prosecution has accused him of founding Comité du Salut, a Hutu students organisation accused of attacks on Tutsi students in Rwanda in the early 70s. Prior to beginning histestimony, Nahimana lost a motion for judgement of acquittal. His defence had argued that the prosecution had presented "insufficient" evidence to convict. Nahimana was however acquitted on one count of murder as a crime against humanity. He retains six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Two other former Rwandan media personalities jointly on trial with Nahimana were also acquitted of some charges but kept in custody to face full trials. The two are former editor of the newspaper "Kangura", Hassan Ngeze, and former director of political affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and member of the board at RTLM, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. They are also accused of using the media to incite the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Nahimana continues his testimony on Monday. 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/FH(ME-0921e)