The Suicide Attempt
Mr. Hassan Ngeze, a detainee of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda currently awaiting trial on genocide-related charges, attempted to commit suicide on 24 January 1998. At 0945 hours on 24 January, while on a routine patrol of the cells in the Tribunal's Detention Facility in Arusha, a prison officer found Ngeze lying unconscious in his bed in his cell. The Tribunal urgently arranged medical treatment for Mr. Ngeze, who soon regained consciousness and is now in stable condition.
The detainee admitted swallowing a mixture of chemical agents of which detergent, normally provided to detainees in daily portions for cleaning their own quarters, was the main ingredient. A preliminary investigation has revealed that Mr. Ngeze had spoken openly to some of his fellow detainees about suicide, of which the detention authorities were unaware. Previous reports from the detention facility indicate that Mr. Ngeze is an individual who could go to great lengths to attract attention to himself.
Steps Taken by the Tribunal
The Tribunal has always taken every precaution to forestall any occurrence of this nature, and a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances of Mr. Ngeze's attempted suicide is underway. Immediate action has been taken to further strengthen existing precautionary measures, and further necessary action will be taken by the Tribunal upon the completion of its internal investigation.
Hassan Ngeze, 37, is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Kangura newspaper in Rwanda. He was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya on 18 July 1997 and transferred the same day to the Tribunal's detention facility in Arusha. In the indictment against him, Ngeze is charged with one count of Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide, and two counts of Crimes Against Humanity .The indictment alleges that Mr. Ngeze knowingly, with his consent and direction, published or allowed to be published in the Kangura certain materials which were used in the preparation of genocide against Tutsis; incited to kill and/or cause bodily or mental harm to Tutsis; and persecuted Tutsis and certain Hutus.
Mr. Ngeze entered his initial appearance before the Tribunal on 19 November 1997, at which he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and, like other detainees, has been assigned a defence counsel of his choice by the Registrar of the Tribunal on the basis of an initial determination of indigence.