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Barayagwiza declines to plead to new counts

Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, a former Director of Political Affairs in the Rwandan Foreign Ministry and a founder member of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), today declined to plead to three new counts brought against him by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Mr Barayagwiza refused to recognise the duty counsel assigned to him by the Tribunal in the absence of his appointed defense counsel. He argued on his own behalf that he was unable to plead to the new counts as the proceedings constituted a violation of his rights in the light of an appeal in his case which had not yet been determined.

The Prosecutor added the new counts to the indictment to include Crime against Humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions bringing the number of counts in the indictment to nine.

Setting aside Mr Barayagwiza's objections, Judge Navanethem Pillay, sitting alone, entered a plea of not guilty to each of the new counts on his behalf as provided for in the Tribunal's rules of procedure in the event of an accused declining to enter a plea.

Mr Barayagwiza, accused of committing genocide and related offences, is alleged to have incited the killings of members of the minority Tutsi population through inflammatory radio broadcasts. Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines is believed to have been part of Rwanda's "hate media" that fanned ethnic hatred against the Tutsi minority prior to the beginning of the genocide in April 1994. The Prosecution alleges that in an interview broadcast by RTLM, Barayagwiza had called for the extermination of Tutsis and Hutus opposed to the then government

Last month, the Appeals Chamber of the Tribunal reviewed its earlier decision to release Mr Barayagwiza based on new facts presented by the Prosecutor.

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