Arusha, August 22, 2003 (FH) - A lawyer for the former political advisor in the Rwandan ministry of foreign affairs, and afounding-member of Radio-télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM), Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, Friday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR) that his client was innocent. Barayagwiza is jointly accused with two others in the so-called hate media trial.

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He is accused among others, of conspiracy and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Barayagwiza is an honest and courageous man who is driven by normal human sentiments, declared the Italian lawyer, Giacomo Barletta Caldarera who is defending Barayagwiza against the latters wish. Barayagwiza has boycotted the trial ever it opened on October 23, 2000 and has refused to recognise his lawyer assigned to him in the interests of justice. Caldarera, who underlined the difficulties of defending an unwilling person, said that he was basing his opinion on the Barayagwizas writings as well as testimonies collected from people who were familiar with him. The Italian lawyer said that that prosecutor had not been able to prove his clients guilt. The prosecutor in referring to the indictment at the beginning of the week, pointed out that Barayagwiza was was the number two person in RTLM, deputising for Ferdinand Navahimana, one of his co-accused. The prosecutor also described Barayagwiza as being the leader of radical political party known for its anti-Tutsi propaganda, the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). According to Caldarera, the prosecutor, instead of proving Barayagwizas criminal responsibility, "automatically" considered all organisations he was a member as extremist. The lawyer also assessed that the prosecutor had failed to prove through CDRs statutes that the party discriminated against Tutsis. "The CDR did not preach ethnic-based discrimination. The only fact it recognised was that there were three distinct ethnic groups": Hutus, Tutsis and Twas, pointed out Caldarera. The lawyer denies that his client promoted the ideology of ethnic superiority. Apart from Barayagwiza and Nahimana, the trial also involves the former owner and editor-in-chief of Kangura newspaper, Hassan Ngeze. The prosecutor has requested the life imprisonment for all the three accused. Just like Nahimanas and Ngezes defence counsel had done, Caldarera pleaded for clients acquittal. The Chamber will retire to deliberate form Friday afternoon. A source within the ICTR revealed to Hirondelle that a verdict would be pronounced at the end of this year or early next yearThe trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR is composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (Presiding), Erik Møse of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/AT/FH(ME'0822F)