Arusha, April 7, 2003 (FH) - The former editorinchief and owner of “Kangura” newspaper who is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Monday said that that he had been approached by the prosecution to act as a defence witness. Appearing before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, Hassan Ngeze, 44 revealed that the prosecution had on many occasions asked him to cooperate in exchange for a pleabargain.

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“They told me that I did not have a big case to answer and that I would probably win the case”, the accused informed the prosecution, adding that in their discussions they had been unable to solve one key issue; the killers of former Rwandan president. “The office of the Prosecutor did not want to tackle the question of who killed Habyarimana. All they were interested in was the information I possessed”, he pointed out, adding that he was ready to help the prosecution, but only after completing his trial. He is jointly accused with three other people for using the media to incite and fan the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Those accused with Ngeze in what is known as the “Media trial” are two former founding members of the Radiotélévision libre des mille collines (RTLM); Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Ferdinand Nahimana. Barayagwiza has boycotted proceedings at the tribunal, citing the tribunal would not render fair justice as it was being manipulated by the Kigali government. Ngeze echoed accusations he made last week that the tribunal had in its custody innocent people while the real killers were still at large. “I can be of great help to this court because of the information I have. But I first want to win my case because I am innocent, just like many others now in detention”. Hassan Ngeze was answering questions from one of the prosecutors, William Egbe of Cameroon, during crossexamination. The prosecutor has in a greater part been attempting to punch holes into Ngeze's testimony and many times tried to show that it was unreliable. Ngeze's camera saved hundredsAt one time Egbe challenged Ngeze to explain how he had stopped a band of militia from attacking a protected witness only identified as “RM 113”, yet continues to deny he had any link with the militia. “I was popular, even in Gisenyi, I would tell people in our mosque to disassociate themselves from the killings and instead bring Tutsis to my house from where I would smuggle them to Goma. “When they saw my camera, they became scared that I might take their pictures and ran away. That is how I saved RM 113. I saved hundreds with my camera”, alleged the accused, adding that he was among the few people who saved the lives of Tutsis by driving them to the safety of UN peace keeping forces and church compounds in Kigali”. Ngeze told the court that his deeds made him a target of Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva who ordered an attack on Ngeze's house. The prosecution had inferred that Ngeze had stagemanaged the attack to cover up the death of one, Modeste Tabaro. The trial continues Tuesday with Hassan Ngeze being crossexamined by Nahimana's defence counsel, Diana Ellis, QC, of the United Kingdom. Trial Chamber One is composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/FH(ME'0407e)