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Journalist Jailed For Genocide

A Belgian journalist received a 12-year jail sentence Thursday from a United Nations court, for broadcasts that encouraged the Rwanda 1994 genocide, reports Tanzania's Hirondelle news agency.

Georges Henry Joseph Ruggiu, who worked for Radio Television libre des Mille Collines, was given two sentences of 12 years each after pleading guilty to direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity.

“I regret the events, and I have decided to assume the responsibility,” Ruggiu then told the court. “I am guilty because of what I was directly doing.”

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said the sentences should run concurrently. Ruggiu's time in captivity would be taken into consideration for the sentence. He was arrested in 1997 when he was in Mombasa, Kenya.

On Thursday the court said Ruggiu was a weak individual who was easily manipulated and impressed by those in power.

“Your character is easily influenced by individuals who would take undue advantage of your idealism to involve you in a situation which led to the crimes for which you are convicted,” the judges said in their summary.

They added Ruggiu had been “immature,” and that his “infatuation with Africa” made it easy for extremist Hutu to manipulate him into the kind of work he did.

But they noted that Ruggiu appeared to have a genuine awareness of his guilt and responsibility and had shown a deep and abiding sense of remorse and regret.

Some level of clemency ought to be shown to those who confess their guilt to encourage others to come forward, they added.

A typical commentary broadcast by Ruggiu in the weeks before the slaughter declared, “You cockroaches must know you are made of flesh. We won't let you kill. We will kill you,”.

He went to Rwanda in 1993 after joining a Rwandan-Belgian discussion group close to the regime of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Ruggiu fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the slaughter, but was arrested in Kenya and transferred to the ICTR's headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. He is the only non-Rwandan held by the court.

Defense lawyers said that after first pleading not guilty, Ruggiu had a change of heart when he heard fellow prisoners discussing how they had planned and executed the genocide.

Over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in a three-month slaughter by Hutu extremists in Rwanda in 1994. Ruggiu, the only foreigner to be charged by the U.N. court, was an anchor at the time with what became known as “hate radio” because of its incitements for provoking Tutsis to be killed.

Created in November 1994 and given a 10-year run, the U.N. tribunal has convicted eight people and is holding another 43 suspected genocide leaders.

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