Arusha, March 25, 2003 (FH) - Hassan Ngeze, a Rwandan journalist currently on trial for genocide in the media case at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was born in 1962 in Rubavu commune, Gisenyi prefecture (West Rwanda), according to the official records of the ICTR. At the beginning of his testimony, he told the court that he was born on December 25th, 1957.

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Ngeze began testifying in his defence on Monday, March 24th, after twentynine witnesses also testified in his defence. The journalistNgeze, a Hutu, worked as a columnist between 1978 and 1997 for different Rwandan newspapers. During the 1994genocide, he was the editorinchief of the Kangura newspaper, having held this position since 1990. Before joining Kangura, Ngeze was the Gisenyi correspondent and distributor of another independent newspaper called Kanguka. Kangura was established in 1990 to defend and promote the extremist Hutu ideology and to unite all Hutus in order to heal Rwanda, according to the prosecution. The newspaper published interviews, messages and speeches by political and government figures inciting to exterminate the Tutsis and moderate Hutus. In December 1990, one month after publishing the ten commandments of the Batutsis, Ngeze, published in Kangura the ten commandments of the Bahutus showing contempt and hatred for Tutsis. Among them was one asking the Hutus to stop having mercy on the Tutsis. On several occasions between May 1990 and December 1994, the newspaper described Tutsis as the enemy and the members of the opposition as their accomplices. Apart from his journalistic activities, Ngeze was also involved in politics. He was the founding member of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) and an influential member of the party, being an advisor to its committee of directors. CDR was one of the main political parties in Rwanda and had a youth wing called Impuzamugambi. It was formed on February 18th 1992. According to the indictment, Ngeze was also one of the leaders of militiamen in Gisenyi prefecture. Before the CDR was founded, he was a member of the MRND political party, the ruling party during the genocide. The MRND had been formed by President Juvenal Habyarimana in 1975. In 1993, Ngeze and Kangura newspaper became shareholders of the RTLM "hate" radio. He is now a suspect in the so called " media trial" which groups three media leaders accused of having used the media to incite killings during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The two other accused are former director of RadioTélévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana and former politician and RTLM board member JeanBosco Barayagwiza. Nahimana's defence team has so far called 11 witnesses. Nahimana who wound up his defence on January 16, 2003 testified in his defence in October last year for two weeks. Another suspect in the trial, Barayagwiza has continued to boycott the proceedings, saying that the government of Rwanda unduly influences the court. Before Ngeze became a journalist, he was a shoe shiner then a bus conductor according to prosecution witnesses who know him well and have testified in the Media Trial. One of them dubbed EB to protect his identity from the public told the judges in May 2001 that as far as he knew, Ngeze was not a trained journalist when he started the extremist Kangura newspaper. He added that Ngeze's level of education was only primary school. It is difficult to find much documented information on Ngeze and especially his life history. The accusedNgeze has been in conflict with his defence team for almost two years. He has asked and been denied permission to dismiss them on July 4, 2002. Before he began his testimony on Monday, Ngeze stated that he did not want to be led by his counsel. He has also indicated that he does not want to be represented by his two counsels John Flyod of the USA and Réne Martel of Canada, in the appeals chamber should he be convicted. Ngeze claims that his lead counsels are incompetent and have isolated him in the preparation of his defence. "The chamber notes that he (Ngeze) has periodically worked with his counsel", said presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. "The motion (to dismiss counsel) is dismissed", she added. Floyd denied allegations that he had refused to consult his client. "We have done our best. Sometimes he has refused to receive us or to speak to us on the phone", he said, adding that, " Everyone knows that Mr. Ngeze is very difficult. "Ngeze was also denied a motion to allow him to crossexamine prosecution expert witness and French historian, JeanPierre Chrétien. Ngeze first unsuccessfully applied to discontinue his defence team in April 2001. Floyd then asked the court to do a psychiatric test on Ngeze. The results of the test have been kept confidential. Apart from giving his lawyers a rough time, Navanathem Pillay, the presiding judge of Trial Chamber One hearing the case has also had some difficult times trying to control the accused in court. On several occasions, while Ngeze was shouting orinterrupting sessions on several, judge Pillay had to intervene and ask him to sit or calm down. On March 3rd, she had to warn Ngeze on two occasions to respect court procedures, and told him that if he failed to abide, he wouldbe thrown out of court. The detaineeOne day after he began his evidence, and in an unprecedented move at the ICTR, Ngeze circulated an email to about fifty people, including journalists, on how he intended to proceed with his testimony. The document entitled "Ngeze testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda" is twenty pages long and is divided into six chapters. Ngeze will start, forinstance, with "the cause of conflict between antagonists Hutus and Tutsis from 1959 to 1994, a conflict which until the present day, is far from coming to the end". Chapter III will "deal with Ngeze being a newspaper columnist from 1978 to 1997; Ngeze saving lives of innocent Tutsis April to July 1994 ; Ngeze threatened to death for having sheltered Tutsis;April July 1994, a few times when Ngeze could be out of jail, he helped foreign TV and Radio stations to alert international community to see if they can intervene and remedy the situation by taking photographs and sending abroad video of what was happening at that time, CNN, BBC, included". Ngeze is one of the only two UN detainee, with coaccused JeanBosco Barayagwiza, who owns a (www. hassanngeze. s5. com ) . On it, he talks generally about his trial and his life at the UN detention facility in Arusha. In Ngeze's own words, the website is dedicated to "an African journalist in a war torn country who is accused of having exercised his freedom of speech and now stands accused at the ICTR". Ngeze was arrested in Kenya on July 18 1997 and transferred to the United Nations detention facility in Arusha the same day. His initial appearance before the tribunal was on November 19th 1997. While in detention, and before the media trial began, Ngeze also gave a hard time to the registry of the ICTR. In January 1998, he allegedly attempted to commit suicide, absorbing a mixture of chemical products. However, it was never really clear whether Ngeze did want to end his life. Some details leaked from the registry that Ngeze had, prior to absorbing the chemicals, checked with inmates that cow milk was a proper antidote to the chemicals, and that he drank a whole bottle of it when he regained consciousness. PJ/CE/FH (ME'0325e)