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Arusha, January 18th 2007 (FH) – One after the other, the defence counsels of the three media ex-bosses in trial before the Appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), have criticized the verdict delivered against their clients in 2003. They have denounced its inaccuracies, errors and violations of rights. The verdict is also the focus of a critical report signed by twelve organizations for the worldwide protection and freedom of the press, which points out many possible threats to the liberty of expression in the Media trial verdict. This study conducted by the association « Open Society Justice Initiative» was accepted at the beginning of January as « amicus Curiae » (friend of the Court) by the Appeals Chamber. The first defence lawyer, Jean-Marie Biju-Duval of Paris’ bar, has denounced the « serious errors in law and facts » which led his client Ferdinand Nahimana to be sentenced to life imprisonment. Concerning the charge of concerted planning of genocide, the keystone of the indictment, he laughed away the supposed alliance between three men and two media. Jean-Marie Biju-Duval said that « in order to try the media », the prosecution had collected « scattered elements » and presented a « paper-thin circumstantial evidence ». Therefore, he considers the judgment « extremely incoherent and highly ambiguous ». He has denounced violations of the right to fair evidence and a fair trial and pointed out that his client had been convicted for his activities as the director of the RTLM, a position he never occupied. According to the French lawyer, the judgment is peppered with several other errors, for instance the use of the Kinyarwanda verb « gukora » which has a double meaning: to kill and to work. This expression is written in the judgment but it has never been pronounced by Nahimana. Finally, Mr. Biju-Duval told the court that the translation in English of his brief had been transmitted to the judges only four days before they started deliberating, which implies that three of them, English speakers, had not examined it. Mr. Bharat Chadha, the latest attorney of Hassan Ngeze, the whimsical editor-in-chief of Kangura who has spent part of the hearing making eyes at the women in the public gallery, hasn't been more tender with the judges of the trial chamber. According to him, by convicting Ngeze for the content of issues of Kangura published before 1994, the trial chamber went beyond the limits of its temporal competence. He also stressed that the paper directed by Hassan Ngeze had stopped being printed after the fatidic day of April 6th 1994. The last issue of Kangura was released in March 1994, the Tanzanian attorney added. Peter Herbert (UK), who represents Barayagwiza, has shown a more technical approach. He listed one by one the errors he had found in the judgment. He announced 52 but managed to go only halfway through despite speaking at machine-gun speed. He left both translators and stenographers panting and concluded by telling the judges « History will judge you ». Mr. Herbert, whose client had refused to attend his own trial before the trial chamber and had rejected his lawyers, put the blame on his predecessor. He accused the latter of having been « incompetent and careless » for not asking the trial to be postponed although he had been appointed only six days before the first hearing. As a consequence, Barayagwiza, who accused the chamber of being manipulated by the Rwandan government, had not appeared before the Court. He was attending the trial in appeal. In a communiqué transmitted to the media before he took the floor, Mr. Herbert denounced a judgment which he said constitutes « the worst judicial error of international justice ». He thinks Barayagwiza has been the object of an « ambush ». Barayagwiza considers that he « served as a scapegoat », according to the lawyer. MG/PB © Hirondelle News Agency