Arusha, February, 21, 2002 (FH) - Former director of the Rwandan national information office (ORINFOR), Ferdinand Nahimana never discriminated against ethinic Tutsis as alleged by a witness, defence counsel Diana Ellis of the UK argued before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. Witness 'X', testifying via video conference from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague in the Netherlands, has described how Nahimana dismissed a secretary for simply being Tutsi.

1 min 48Approximate reading time

He has also told the court of Nahimana dismissing a journalist, one Agnes Murebwayire, for the same reason. Murebwayire has testified in this trial. 'X', named as such to protect his identity, has refused to testify from the ICTR in Arusha citing security reasons. He has been described by the prosecution as an "insider" who knew whatever was taking place in the Rwandan political arena at the time of the 1994 genocide. Some one million people died in the genocide, according to an official Rwandan survey. X is testifying in the so-called 'media trial'. This case groups three people linked to media which incited Hutus against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are Ferdinand Nahimana, also 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, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Witness X testified on Monday that Nahimana had requested him to find him a secretary to replace his (Nahimana's) Tutsi secretary. Ellis asked witness X why Nahimana would have requested him to find him a secretary. "Did you run a personnel agency?", Ellis asked the witness. "We didn't have such agencies in Rwanda", responded X. He said that as a friend of Nahimana's, it was normal in "the Rwandan context" to help him find a worker. Ellis mantained that ORINFOR had its own personnel section charged with such duties. Ellis also challenged X's testimony on Monday, that Nahimana had on several occasions made hate remarks against the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel movement. She said the remarks could not be seen as racist, becuase the RPF had "a significant number of Hutus" in its ranks. "His (Nahimana's) references were never directed at people for being Tutsis," said Ellis; "he was discussing the RPF". X insisted that the RPF only had an insignificant minority of Hutus and was generally a symbol of Tutsis. Ellis also contested several details in X's witness statement to prosecution investigators. The trial adjourned until Monday 25th February as Friday is a public holiday. 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-0221f)