Journalist convicted by UN’s Rwandan genocide tribunal to end jail term in Italy

28 February 2008

A journalist and presenter convicted by a United Nations war crimes tribunal for his work with a notorious Rwandan radio station that called for the killing of Tutsis during the country’s 1994 genocide will serve the remainder of his jail sentence in Italy.

Georges Omar Ruggiu, the only non-Rwandan to be convicted and sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) so far, was today transferred by military aircraft from the Tribunal’s custody in Arusha, Tanzania, to detention in Italy.

The 50-year-old, who holds Belgian and Italian nationality, pleaded guilty at the ICTR to two counts of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity and was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June 2000. He had been in custody since July 1997.

Mr. Ruggiu had worked from January to July 1994 with Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), whose broadcasts had been used by Hutu extremists to whip up hatred against Tutsis and identify individuals for subsequent killing.

His transfer to Italy is the result of an agreement signed by the Government of the European country and the UN in March 2004 to enforce ICTR prison sentences.

The Security Council set up the ICTR in 1994 in response to that year’s genocide, during which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered – often by machete or club – in just 100 days starting in early April.

 

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