Arusha, March 14, 2003 (FH) - In a string of some of the fastesttestimonies in the history of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR), five defence witnesses on Friday said that contrary to prosecutioncharges, genocide suspect and former journalist, Hassan Ngeze was a man ofnoble character. “There were always people at Ngeze's home seeking for assistance.

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He gavethem food, money and everything else he could afford”, protected witness‘RM115', named as such to protect his identity. Witness ‘RM300', an ethnic Tutsi, told the court that Ngeze had arranged theescape of her children from Rwanda to Congo during the genocide. “He evenmade sure that they had money to live on”, she said. Another witness, RM200 echoed the testimony of RM115. Furthermore, she saidthat she had learnt from people that had testified for the prosecution inthis case that they had lied against Ngeze. “She told me that she would goto Arusha to cut off the head of Hassan Ngeze”, RM200 talked of a formerprosecution witness. RM200 said that this prosecution witness had got money from genocidesurvivors' organisation, IBUKA to “come and give false testimony that Ngezehad killed”. RM200 also said that Ngeze had helped her and her children to flee Rwanda atthe height of the genocide. “He put us in empty fuel barrels and drove usacross the boarder to Congo”, said RM200. Ngeze was the owner and editor of Kangura newspaper. He is jointly on trialwith Ferdinand Nahimana, a former university professor and one of thefounders of “Hate radio”, Radio télévision libre de milles collines (RTLM)and former politician and boardmember of RTLM, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. Thethree are largely accused of using their respective media to instigate the1994 genocide. All the witnesses also testified that they had never seen Ngeze inpossession of a weapon or dressed in militaly fatigue. Ngeze has beenaccused of leading militia attacks in his hometown of Gisenyi during thegenocide. He is also accused of murder. Three of the witnesses also saidthat Ngeze was not been responsible for the killing of one Modeste Tabaro. They all said that Modeste had been killed by two soldiers, one called Jeffand the other Regis. The defence is expected to present 6 more witnesses on Saturday and Sunday. It will be the first time that the court sits on these days. According tothe judges, the schedule is meant to speed up the hearings of thesewitnesses who have been waiting to testify for longer than previouslyplanned. Trial Chamber One is composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa(presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of SriLanka. Judge Gunawardana has been away for over a week after being operatedupon. GG/CE/FH(ME'0314e)