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Arusha, January 16 2007 (FH) – The trial in appeal of the three former leaders of the « hate media » opened Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Hirondelle Agency reports. On December 3 2003, Ferdinand Nahimana, 57, and Hassan Ngeze, 46, were sentenced to life imprisonment and their co-accused, Jean- Bosco Barayagwiza, 57, to 35 years in prison. The three Rwandans were found guilty of conspiring for genocide, genocide, public and direct incitement for committing genocide, extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity. Nahimana, a former history professor trained in France, and Barayagwiza, a lawyer trained in the ex Soviet Union, were both members of the Steering Committee of the Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a media famous for its anti-Tutsi diatribes. Hassan Ngeze, a self-taught man, worked as director and chief editor of the pro-Hutu newspaper Kangura. The hearings in appeal are scheduled to last until Thursday. They started with the appearance of a witness called by the Court and whose hearing has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors. The witness, who appeared under the pseudonym EB to preserve his anonymity, has already testified against the former director of Kangura. Hearings of witnesses by the Appeals Court occur very rarely at the ICTR. On Wednesday and Thursday, the three defendants’ attorneys will present their arguments and the prosecutor will then respond. At the end of the hearings, each of the three plaintiffs can, if they wish, address the court briefly. The judges will then retire for deliberation. The trial chamber concluded that Nahimana and Barayagwiza « were responsible for the editorial policy of the RTLM but they did nothing to prevent the radio from becoming this instrument of war and genocide ». The judgment pictured the RTLM as « a dangerous and harmful radio » which « developed ethnic clichés resulting in the encouragement of scorn and hatred against Tutsis ». As for Kangura, the paper was presented as « the first stone laid on the road to genocide, triggering the Hutu population into a killing frenzy ». Barayagwiza escaped the maximum sentence thanks to defects in proceedings which occurred during his arrest and his provisional detention. Barayagwiza even boycotted his trial, alleging that the ICTR was manipulated by the Rwandan government. Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza were arrested in Cameroon on March 26th 1996, and Hassan Ngeze in Kenya on July 18th 1997. MG/ER/AT © Hirondelle News Agency