Arusha, March 8, 2002 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday admitted about 130 cassettes, said to be recordings of defunct Radio RTLM broadcasts, as prosecution exhibits. The prosecution alleges that the radio station incited and fuelled the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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The cassettes were produced in the so-called media trial. The case groups three people linked to media which incited Hutus against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which some one million people were killed, according to an official Rwandan survey. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, a founder and alleged former director of Radio-télévision libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); 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. Prosecution witness Kaiser Rizvi testified on the chain of custody of the cassettes. Rizvi is an investigator for the prosecution in the Slobodan Milosevic case at the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. He formerly worked as an investigator for the prosecution at the ICTR. Most of the cassettes admitted as exhibits have previously been referred to by prosecution witnesses in this case. The court had refused to admit them or provisionally admitted them pending authentication. Each of the defence for the three accused repeatedly objected to the admission of the cassettes saying that Rizvi had not produced sufficient proof as to who had made the original recordings and whether or not the recordings had been tampered with. Rizvi said most of the cassettes had been obtained from the US State Department in Washington and the Rwandaise Patriotic Front (RPF) secretariat archives in Kigali, Rwanda. Other cassettes were obtained from individuals who, according to Rizvi, directly recorded RTLM broadcasts. Rizvi could not testify as to who recorded the tapes from the US State Department or those from the RPF secretariat. "This is completely and totally unreliable", said Ngeze's lawyer, John Floyd of the US. "It is biased. The court cannot admit such as exhibits", he added. The court said it would admit the cassettes but would consider the objections of the defence during deliberations on prosecution evidence. Rizvi will continue testifying on Monday. The prosecution is expected to tender about 90 more cassettes. The Trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Pillay of South Africa (Presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JA/FH (ME-0308e)