Arusha, March 28, 2003 (FH) - Despite conceding to having been a founder member of hardline Rwandan political party CDR, genocide suspect and former journalist Hassan Ngeze on Friday denied at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) having ever taken up membership card of the party. “All I did was sign among the founders of the party”, he said, adding, “I never took any membership card of the Coalition pour la Défense de la République (CDR) or any other political party”.

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Ngeze said that even though he agreed with the constitution of CDR, he declined to take membership of any party as a way of defending his “journalistic integrity”. Ngeze was editor of alleged extremist newspaper Kangura. The prosecution alleges that CDR was a major participant in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ngeze has been testifying in his own defence since Monday. He has refused any assistance from his counsels and testifies following a "structure" he has set up on his own. During his testimony on Friday, Ngeze also distanced himself from a document he had signed as committee member of the CDR. The document is a letter to the then chief of the military for the north west Rwanda region of Gisenyi, col. Anatole Nsengiyumva. “I described myself as such to deter him from attacking me. I knew that the army was after me and was therefore trying to scare them away”, he said. Ngeze also said that he had signed as founder member of CDR to “help the party get the required signatures to be legalised”. He also indicated that the party had a rare principle of “confronting and discussing ethnic issues openly”. “I was a founder of the CDR, then I disappeared”, he said. Ngeze is jointly on trial with former university professor and founder member of “hateradio”, Radiotélévision libre des Mille collines (RTLM), Ferdinand Nahimana and former politician and also founder member of RTLM, JeanBosco Barayagwiza. The three are largely accused of using the media in Rwanda to fuel ethnic killings during the 1994 genocide. Ngeze is also accused of conniving with CDR members to incite ethnic Hutus to kill Tutsis and also to carry out attacks against Tutsi civilians. “Kangura couldn't have worked with the government”Dressed in one of his trademark colourful West African gowns, Ngeze reiterated his previous testimony that Kangura had not been a mouthpiece of the then government. He testified of an occasion on which the government had suspended Kangura publications. “When the prosecutor says that I worked with the government, I'm confused”, he said. “But I understand anyway, they are foreigners, they have been misled”, he added. “I was merely a journalist dedicated to saving Rwanda, telling the truth and informing the public. All at the risk of my own life”, he said. Citing several incidences including his (Ngeze) revelations that President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ndadaye of Burundi were to be assassinated, Ngeze said that he had done his best to avert violence in Rwanda. “I warned these presidents but they just said I was a paranoiac. They were later assassinated as I had predicated”, he added. Ngeze was initially scheduled to complete his testimonyinchief on Friday but has now been given until Monday to conclude. This trial is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR comprised of judges Navanethem Pillay (presiding) of South Africa, Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/CE/FH(ME'0328f)