Arusha, September 16, 2002 (FH) - A court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) will on Tuesday deliver its decision on a request by three genocide suspects to be acquitted on grounds of "insufficient" evidence by the prosecution. Founder member of 'hate-radio', Radio-télévision Libre des Mille collines (RTLM) and alleged de facto leader of the radio, Ferdinand Nahimana, former editor-in-chief of the 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 are jointly on trial in what has been named the 'media trial'.

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The three are mainly charged with using the media to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. During what was earlier scheduled to be the start of a defence case, lawyers of the three accused on Monday requested the court to release their clients since the prosecution had presented an "incoherent, baseless and unreliable case". The statute of the tribunal provides for a possibility of acquitting suspects if, "at the end of the case for the prosecution, the Trial Chamber finds the evidence insufficient to sustain conviction". Acquittal on individual counts may also be done. Prosecutor Steven Rapp of the US dismissed arguments put forward by the defence and said that their was enough evidence to convict the accused. "Each of the accused has a case to answer", he said. Nahimana's defence counsel, Biju Duval of France told the court that the prosecutor had, during its case, either completely failed to support charges in the indictment or presented incredible witnesses. He said that his client had no authority over RTLM and had not been implicated in any murder. Rapp challenged the argument saying that despite trying to keep a "low public profile", Nahimana had been the de facto power at RTLM. Rapp said that the prosecution had demonstrated that Nahimana hired personnel, was introduced to authorities as the director of RTLM and was a signatory to RTLM bank accounts. Barayagwiza's co-counsel told the court that whereas the statute of the tribunal is limited to individual criminal responsibility, the prosecutor had tried to get the accused convicted for simply belonging to their respective organisations. The prosecutor denied this saying that the accused were being charged for crimes committed by people under their (accused) command in the organisations. The prosecution closed its case in July after presenting 47 witnesses. The trial started on October 23rd, 2000. It has adjourned several times to give way to other trials taking place in the same chamber. Nahimana and Barayagwiza have been in detention for about six years whereas Ngeze has spent about five years in detention. The trial is 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. GG/FH(ME-0916e)