Arusha, April 22, 2010 (FH) - Taking the witness stand on Thursday, historian Ferdinand Nahimana, who was sentenced to a 30 years term by the ICTR for his support of the extremist media Radio-Télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM) during the Rwandan genocide, denied he ever managed the ‘hate radio'.

1 min 45Approximate reading time

An outstanding academic, trained in Canada and France, Ferdinand Nahimana left his Malian jail to testify in Arusha in favor of Joseph Nzirorera, the Secretary General of the ruling party in 1994.

Joseph Nzirorera is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He pleads not guilty.

"I was not the head of the RTLM. I have never been the manager of this radio", the historian claimed during his testimony.

Prosecutor Don Webster read the Appeals court conclusions stating that he was "the superior of the radio staff".

The convict has always refuted this assertion, explaining that the radio manager was Phocas Habimana. "I am aware of this ruling (...) I am trying to find new facts in order to request a rehearing trial", he told the court.

The witness admitted that RTLM became an incendiary media after April 6, 1994.

"I already deplored before the lower court and in appeal the contents of some of the messages aired which were inciting to commit killings. That's not a point of contention ", he restated.

On Friday, Nzirorera's defence will call upon ICTR-convict Hassan Ngeze, the former director of the extremist Hutu newspaper Kangura.

Two other prominent detainees of the ICTR are scheduled to testify soon in Nzirorera's case, Théoneste Bagosora and Pauline Nyiramasuhuko.

Théoneste Bagosora was the head of the departmental staff - directeur de cabinet - at the Rwandan ministry of Defence in 1994. He was handed down a life jail sentence on December 18, 2008, for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Presented by the Prosecution as the "mastermind" of the Rwandan genocide, he was however acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide.

He has lodged an appeal. The appeal's hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was the minister of Family and Women affairs in 1994. The only woman indicted by an international court, she is awaiting her verdict.

Nzirorera is being jointly tried with two other leaders of the ruling party under President Habyarimana, the MRND: former MRND President Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and his erstwhile deputy Edouard Karemera.

Charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, the three men plead not guilty.

The trio is mainly charged with crimes committed by members of their party. The prosecution has indicted them for their superior responsibility as top officials.

The defendants claim that no link of subordination can be established between them and the actual perpetrators of the killings.


© Agence Hirondelle