Arusha, August 18, 2003 (FH) - The so-called media trial went into its closing stages Monday in Trial Chamber One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), when the prosecution started presenting its closing arguments. The trial which began October 23, 2000, groups together three people accused of using the media to incite and promote ethnic hatred and violence against Tutsis and Hutu moderates before and during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

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Hassan Ngeze, former owner and editor-in-chief of an extremist publication, Kangura, Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, both former senior government officials and founders of a hate radiolaunched in 1993, Radio television libre de mille collines (RTLM). All have pleaded not guilty to all charges levelled against them. During his opening brief, American Stephen Rapp who leads the prosecution, said that both media organs were used deliberately by the accused and others, to oppose the Arusha Accords and whip up ethnic sentiments in the run up to the genocide. He replayed a radio broadcast by RTLM of April 3, 1994, where the journalist, Noheli Hitimana, spoke of "something that would happen" starting between the dates of April 3-5, 1994 (Easter holidays). The journalist continues that there would be an outbreak of violence with "bullets flying and grenades exploding". "There was an expectation of Hutu extremists to do something", said Rapp. "The possibility of the genocide was not impossible", he continued, adding that all that amounted to "incitement, persecution and conspiracy against an ethnic group". Simone Monasebian, one of the members of the prosecution team, also dwelt on the psychological role both RTLM and Kangura played in fanning ethnic hatred and violence. She played tapes on various occasions where presenters on RTLM named alleged accomplices of the Inyenzi (a derogatory term for Tutsis and sympathisers of the rebel RPF) who were later killed. RTLM was used as a means of command control and communicating, said the prosecutor, recalling an incident where an RTLM presenter spoke of "graves being half-full"and dehumanizing the Inyenzi as being cannibals who ate the inner parts of hose they had killed. "The prosecutor called into repute the calibre of journalists hired by RTLM. She said that most, like Noheli Hitimana had either been fired by the state-owned ORINFOR for chronic misconductor incompetence. "Emmanuel Rucogoza was fired for misconduct and incompetence, Gahigi Gaspard had a drinking problem and Ruggiu had no journalistic experience", pointed out Monasebian, adding that the accused, in order to carry out their criminal enterprise, "they recruited from the bottom of the barrel"The trial continues Tuesday with the prosecution continuing with it closing arguments. Trial Chamber One of the ICTR presided over by Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and is assisted by Erik Møse form Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana. KN/AT/FH (ME'0818E)