A former Editor-in-Chief of a Rwandan newspaper, Kangura, Hassan Ngeze today pleaded not guilty to the three counts charging him with participation in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The plea was entered during his initial appearance before Trial Chamber 1.
Hassan Ngeze, who is defended by Counsels Ngata Kamau and Wamuti Ndegwa from Kenya, is charged with one count of Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide, and two counts of Crimes Against Humanity. Judge Lennart Aspegren dismissed one count charging the accused with Genocide when confirming the indictment against Ngeze on 3 October 1997.
The indictment alleges that the accused used his newspaper to prepare genocide against Tutsis; to incite to kill or cause bodily harm to Tutsis; and to persecute Tutsis and certain Hutus. He is also alleged to have distributed hand grenades to members of the lnterahamwe militias in Gakuba 1 district, in Gisenyi Prefecture.
Later the Presiding Judge Laïty Kama reminded the Prosecution to make available to the Defence within 30 days of the initial appearance of the accused copies of the supporting material which accompanied the indictment when confirmation was sought as well as all prior statements obtained by the Prosecutor from the accused, in accordance with Rule 66 in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal.
Hassan Ngeze, born in 1961 in the Commune of Rubavu, Gisenyi Prefecture was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya during the operation code-named NAKI (Nairobi-Kigali) in which seven major suspects of the Rwandan genocide were arrested on 18 July 1997.
Meanwhile, the Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) yesterday endorsed by acclamation the proposal by the outgoing President Antonio Cassese to nominate Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald as President and Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen as Vice-President of the ICTY. By her appointment Judge McDonald has also become the President of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Judge McDonald, a native of the United States of America, was elected by the United Nations General Assembly as a Judge of the ICTY in September 1993 and re-elected on 20 May 1997 for a second four-year term.
Other members of the Appeals Chamber are Judge Shahabuddeen (Guyana), Judge Lal Chand Vohrah (Malaysia), Judge Wang Tieya (China) and Judge Rafael Nieto Navia (Colombia).