Arusha, May 24, 2002 (FH) - Genocide suspect and former director of the Rwandan National Information Office (ORINFOR), Ferdinand Nahimana was political advisor to president Theodore Sindikubwabo during the 1994 genocide, human rights activist Alison Des Forges told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. Des Forges said Nahimana was also kind of a spokesperson for the regime that presided of the genocide.

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"Mr. Nahimana was called upon as the educated, articulate, public face of the Rwandan government", she said. Nahimana's defence objected to Des Forge's reference to a 'president's advisor' as 'advisor to the government'. Des Forges insisted that in the Rwandan context, advisor to the president would be regarded as advisor to the government. Nahimana was director on the Rwandan Office of information (ORINFOR), he is also a founder and alleged former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). He is jointly on trial with two other suspects who allegedly used the media in Rwanda to fuel the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The other two are : Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and RTLM board member; and Hassan Ngeze, former editor of newspaper "Kangura". The three are charged with several counts of genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Des Forges is a senior advisor to human rights watchdog organisation, Human Rights Watch. She holds a PhD in African History from Yale University in the US. She has published several works on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda including the book, Leave none to tell the story. She is testifying as an expert witness. Des Forges will begin answering questions from the defence on Monday. Prosecutors Charity Kagwi of Kenya and Simon Monasebian of the US have been questioning Des Forges. The trial 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-0524e)