Arusha, August 20, 2003 (FH) - Defence lawyers for Ferdinand Nahimana, Wednesday requested Trial Chamber One of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), to disregard all evidence brought against their client and acquit him. Nahimana, 53, is a former university professor and founder member of Radio télévision libre de mille collines (RTLM) is jointly being tried at the ICTR with two others in the so-called media case for allegedly using the media to propagate and incite the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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One of Nahimanas defence counsels, Diana Ellis of the UK said that most of what was heard in court was circumstantial evidence that should not be taken into account. "What you have received is not evidence and must not be confused with evidence", Ellis told the court during Nahimanas closing arguments. "He has nothing to prove and no need to call witness in his defence" she continued, maintaining her client's innocence. Nahimana is jointly accused with Hassan Ngeze, former owner and editor-in-chief of Kanguranewspaper, and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, a board member and senior official the extremist party, Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). All three have denied allegations by the prosecution that they used their respective media organs to fan ethnic hatred and incite the massacres of over one million Tutsis and members of the Hutu opposition. The prosecution maintains that Nahimana as the chairman of the steering committee of RTLM, and therefore the de facto head, failed to stop virulent and ethnic flavoured broadcasts by RTLM. He is also being held criminally responsible for acts committed by his subordinates. Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, another of Nahimanas lawyers, argued that even though the accused was involved in RTLM, he did not control the contents of the broadcasts as the radio station had its director, in the name of Phocas Habimana. The accused was just "a promoter of the project". "Nahimana was not involved in any kind of criminal conspiracy" Biju-Duval continued, adding that even though RTLM had engaged in criminal broadcasts, it was up to the prosecutor to prove that Nahimana had in a repeated manner heard all programs that were criminal in nature. "Biju-Duval went on to say that the prosecution had failed to link Nahimana to either the Hutu power factions in Rwandan politics or the famous akazu( former president Habyarimana's inner circle) who opposed the peace process between the government and the then rebel movement, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), now in power in Kigali. Hutu power were splinter groups in PL, MDR and PSD parties, yet Nahimana was a member of MRND(the former presidents party), argued the lawyer. He went on to say that Isibo newspaper, which had in the usually harassed Nahimana, had printed a list of alleged members of "Akazu", and that Nahimanas name did not figure on it. "What is clear is that there is no link or nexus that that can be found between Nahimana and those circles who wanted to resume hostilities", the lawyer said, referring to the "Akazu". He continued to say that the prosecution had failed to show evidence, either written or spoken by the accused that reflected any ethnic or racial slurs. "As a man of law, I am going to request you to acquit Ferdinand Nahimana", he told the tribunal. The trial continues Thursday with the tribunal waiting to hear from Ngeze Hassan and Jean Bosco Barayagwizas lawyers. Trial Chamber One is composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/FH (ME0820e)