Nahimana Deplores RTLM Journalists' Behavior During Genocide
The conduct of journalists at the Radio Television Libre de Mille
Collines (RTLM) between April and July 1994 was unacceptable, Ferdinand Nahimana, a founder and alleged RTLM director, today told judges at the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
Nahimana, who is testifying in his own defense, said that although he
lost touch with the station after his evacuation on 12 April 1994, he later
learned that the radio's journalists would use drugs and alcohol before going on
air during the three-month violence in Rwanda.
"I want to be well understood. I am not saying that these journalists
were bad before 6 April, in fact they were the creme de la creme of
journalists in Kigali but taking alcohol and drugs and going on air, that is
unacceptable," Nahimana said.
Nahimana is one of the defendants in the "Media Trial." He is jointly
tried with Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze on charges of using their respective media to incite ethnic hatred and genocide. Barayagwiza is
another RTLM founding member and Ngeze was editor and owner of 'Kangura', an allegedly Hutu extremist newspaper. All three have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Answering questions from John Floyd of the United States, lead
counsel for Ngeze, Nahimana maintained that contrary to prosecution allegations, he did not conspire with Barayagwiza and Ngeze to incite hatred and genocide. The prosecution has alleged that Nahimana, a history professor, was "chief ideologue" of the genocide.
"To say that Nahimana wrote the book 'Emergence of a State' and that
this was the ideology of genocide is completely superficial,' Nahimana insisted.
The accused explained that the war in Rwanda between the government
and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) between 1990 and 1994 played a critical role in the events of April- July 1994, adding that there is need for a balanced view.
"I would not just go back to 1990 at the invasion of Rwanda, I would
go even further back, for instance in 1959 [during the social revolution where
ethnic Hutu wrested power from the Tutsi monarchy], if there were no refugees from that period, the attack of 1990 would not have happened. What disturbs me personally is that such a large number of people were killed, whatever the reasons advanced for it. To me, what happened is revolting, but this does not mean that the reasons for what happened did not exist," Nahimana told the court.
Nahimana has been on the stand since 18 September when the defense
opened their case.
The trial is held before Chamber I of the ICTR, comprising Judges
Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka.
Copyright 2002 Africa News Service, Inc. Africa News
September 25, 2002 Wednesday