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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK


World: Africa

Rwanda arrests 'hate radio' journalist

800,000 are estimated to have died in the genocide

A Rwandan radio journalist has been charged with inciting mass killings during the 1994 genocide.

Valerie Bemeriki, a former employee of the independent Radio Mille Collines, was arrested in north-western Rwanda late last week, according to Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo.

"She will be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity," the justice minister said.

Radio Mille Collines became notorious for its broadcasts which encouraged the slaughter of Tutsis and of Hutus who were sympathetic to the Tutsi cause.

The station was launched in 1993, backed by family members of the Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana - whose death in a plane crash triggered the genocide.

"Do not kill those inyenzi (cockroaches) with a bullet - cut them to pieces with a machete" was one comment attributed to Ms Bemeriki.

Believed dead

Ms Bemeriki was earlier believed to have died in a refugee camp after the present Tutsi-led government took power in Rwanda, but she had instead gone into hiding near the Hutu stronghold of Gisenyi, a government source said.

Her name is on a list of the 1,000 people most wanted in connection with their alleged complicity in the genocide.

At least one other Mille Collines journalist - the Belgian Georges Ruggiu - is currently awaiting trial in Rwanda.

An estimated 800,000 people were killed in the 1994 genocide, which was directed against the Tutsi people who were Rwanda's feudal rulers until 1959.



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