Arusha, August 22, 2003 (FH) - Lawyers for the former owner and editor-in-chief of Kangura newspaper, Hassan Ngeze, argued for his release Thursday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). "The fact that Ngeze never published a single issue of Kangura between April and July 1994, is enough proof that he is not guilty of genocide or incitement to commit genocide.

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The trial should end on that note", said the accused lead counsel, John Floyd from the USA. Floyd added that Kangura was not a widely circulated newspaper. No one was killed as a result of an article in Kangura"I do not understand the reasons of the gymnastics in trying to pin Hassan Ngeza on a criminal act", asserted Floyd. Hassan Ngeza is being jointly tried with two founder-members the Radio-télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM), Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Ferdinand Nahimana. Floyd denies any conspiracy between Ngeze and his co-accused. In Nahimana's case, Floyd pointed out that they had no common denominator. "There is a ten-year difference between them; they are of different intellectual levels, and they come from different communes and both have a mutual disdain", he said. "The office of the prosecutor's thesis is terribly weak", declared Ngezes co-counsel, Rene Martel from Canada. "I would even add that it was fraudulent". Ngezes lawyers are of the view that prosecutor has not proven beyond all reasonable doubt their client's guilt. "In order to prove that Ngeze is guilty of any crime, our witnesses will have to be dismissed. I do not see how they will go about that", assessed Floyd. The lawyers requested the judges "not to be held prisoners by the emotions raised by the seriousness of the charges". The tribunal will on Friday listen to closing arguments from Jean Bosco Barayagwizas defence. Barayagwiza has boycotted the trial ever since it began in 2000, claiming that the ICTR is manipulated by the Rwandan government. He is being represented by a lawyer he does not approve of. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/AT/FH (ME0822H)