Arusha, February 27, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza on trial for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday denied he had any link with the 'hate radio' Radio-Television libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). The prosecutor Chile Eboe Osuji of Canada and Nigeria said during cross-questioning that Semanza was a shareholder of the RTLM.

1 min 33Approximate reading time

RTLM was established in 1993 in Rwanda. It has been described as "an effective hate media" that was used to broadcast messages to incite ethnic Hutu to kill ethnic Tutsi during the Rwandan genocide. Semanza is charged with 14 counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape and persecution in his Bicumbi commune and nearby Gikoro commune. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecution maintains that he was involved in planning the killing of Tutsis, including the training of militia and distribution of weapons in his commune. Semanza allegedly committed the crimes between April 9th and 13th, 1994. Responding to Osuji, who asked if Semanza had shares in RTLM, the accused said: "No, I did not have shares in radio RTLM and I was not a founder member. " Osuji told the court that he had a record from an accounts report of 1993, in which Semanza's name appears on the list of RTLM shareholders. But Semanza's defence objected saying that the alleged report was certified in Brussels (Belgium) in 1995, well after the events of 1994. "Whoever certified it was not certifying the content," Semanza's co-counsel Sadikou Alao of Benin, argued. Alao questioned the authenticity of the document. The court allowed the prosecutor to ask questions arising from the report but added that the issue of its authenticity would be revisited at a later stage. Semanza's defence raised a motion to have a former RTLM director and genocide suspect, Ferdinand Nahimana, also a defendent before the ICTR, to testify on Semanza's alleged involvement with the RTLM. Nahimana is one of three accused in the so-called 'media trial' before ICTR's Trial Chamber One. However, the Chamber rejected the defence motion. Semanza who started giving evidence on February 13th, is testifying in his own defence before the defence closes its case. Prosecution and defence are expected to present closing arguments in May. Semanza continues testifying with a re-examination by his counsel on Thursday morning. This case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JA/FH (SE-0227g)