Arusha, April 8, 2003 (FH) - Hassan Ngeze Tuesday concluded his testimony in fervent voice before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ngeze, as usual smartly dressed in flowing robes, was defending himself in a trial where he and two others are accused of using the media to incite ethnic hatred that led to the 1994 genocide in RwandaNgeze former editorinchief of ‘Kangura' newspaper told the court that history would be his judge for the role he played in saving Tutsis during the genocide.

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“The person you see seated here, madam president, is not a criminal”, the accused ardently declared to the presiding judge of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, Navanethem Pillay. “Shortly you will have before you former high ranking members of the government. Just ask them one question: How many people did you save? But me, Hassan Ngeze, in 10 or 20 years humanity will praise me”, he dramatically stated before returning to his seat in the detainees' docket. The suspect continued that in the beginning he was so confident he would not last three months in detention and was surprised that he had passed six years behind bars. He challenged the testimonies of various prosecution witnesses who had linked him to the genocide, calling them “liars”. He singled out Omar Serushago, a former militia leader in Ngeze's hometown, Gisenyi, as both a “liar and a killer”. Serushago was convicted by the ICTR of genocide and sentenced to a15year prison term after agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution. He reiterated that many of the prosecution witnesses who claimed to have seen him immediately after President Habyarimana's death, were not telling the truth. “Between April 6 and 9, 1994, I was in prison for having predicted the president's death”, he explained. Ngeze denied being the source of the famous “Ten Hutu Commandments” that were published by his newspaper. These “commandments”, openly called upon Hutus to shun and alienate Tutsis. Their publication was widely condemned as building a rift between the two ethnic groups. He explained that they first appeared in other papers and all he did was to rerun them. “We later ran an apology to those who felt hurt by the commandments”, the former editor said. The court had been told the previous day that at the time of his arrest, Ngeze had over $ 200,000 in his account in a Kenyan bank. “When I left Rwanda in 1994, I had $250,000”, Ngeze explained, adding that while in exile, he had been given financial support by several African presidents. The tribunal returned to the case of Ferdinand Nahimana, who is jointly accused with Ngeze, and a former government official, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. A former journalist of Radio télévision libre de mille collines (RTLM), Bemeriki Valérie, was called by Nahimana's defence counsel from a prison in Rwanda where she is being held for the same crimes as the person she is testifying for. She denied claims by the prosecution that Nahimana was the director of RTLM. She said that the director was one, Phocas Habimana, who ran the daytoday affairs of the radio Station. She said that she had never seen any documents signed by Nahimana in RTLM's name. “Our contracts were signed by Phocas Habimana, though Nahimana was a member of the steering committee”, said Bemeriki. Among those she named in the committee are Kabuga Felician, a businessman who has also been indicted by the ICTR but is still on the run, and Barayagwiza. Bemeriki, the twelfth defence witness for Nahimana, continues giving her testimony Wednesday. The South African judge, Navanethem Pillay, is assisted in Trial Chamber One by Erik Møse of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/FH(ME'0408e)