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Arusha, January 17 2007 (FH) – The defence counsels of three former media directors, Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze, denounced the judgment pronounced against their clients by the Court of First Instance Wednesday before the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The defence counsels of three former Rwandan media bosses, Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze, convicted by a trial chamber have claimed the innocence of their clients Wednesday before the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, 57 year-old academics, contributed to fund the Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) which encouraged the campaign of hate against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Hassan Ngeze, 46, a self-taught journalist, was the director and chief editor of the Hutu radical paper, Kangura. On December 3 2003, Nahimana and Ngeze were sentenced to life imprisonment and Barayagwiza to 35 years. The three men were found guilty of conspiring for genocide, genocide, public and direct incitement for committing genocide, extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity. According to the judgment, the RTLM and Kangura allied for the extermination of Tutsis. « There has never been a media alliance, neither between the three defendants nor between the two media», Mr. Jean Marie Biju-Duval, Nahimana’s lead counsel, said. The French lawyer explained that there was « a disagreement, hostility, absolutely no relationship between the two alleged conspirers, Nahimana and Ngeze ». Furthermore, Mr. Biju-Duval stressed that before the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6 1994, « no direct and public incitement to commit genocide had been aired on the RTLM ». The lawyer noted that following that day, Nahimana had been on the run and that « at that period of the crime, the RTLM was being run in Kigali by its director Phocas Habimana and the editor in chief Gaspard Gahigi », now both deceased. He added that the RTLM’s Steering Committee to which Nahimana belonged, and which was presided by the businessman Felician Kabuga – wanted by the ICTR –, served as a provisory governing board and was therefore not an « executive organ ». Mr. Peter Donald Herbert (GB), who represents Barayagwiza, a member of the RTLM Steering Committee as well, told the court that the prosecutor had failed to prove that his client had « an actual control » over the journalists of the radio. Eventually, Ngeze’s defence counsel, Bharat Chadha (Tanzania), indicated that Kangura had not been published during the genocide. The hearings in appeal of the “Hate Media” trial opened Tuesday. They will be closed Thursday with the prosecutor’s answer to the arguments of the defence and the statements of each of the three plaintiffs. MG/ER/PB/AT © Hirondelle News Agency