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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Rwanda protests at 'lenient' sentence
Sculls
About 800,000 people were killed in the genocide
The Rwandan government has protested at the 12 year prison sentence imposed by the United Nations criminal tribunal on a Belgian journalist for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Georges Omar Ruggiu worked as a presenter for the notorious Radio et Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) in Kigali - referred to as Hate Radio - during the 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 people died.



I admit that it was indeed a genocide and that unfortunately I took part in it

Georges Omar Ruggiu
Mr Ruggiu is the only non-Rwandan to appear before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Rwanda's official representative at the hearing called for an appeal against the sentence, saying it did not measure up to the crimes for which Ruggiu had confessed.

The Swiss-based Hirondelle news agency said Mr Ruggiu's time in detention would be taken into consideration for the sentence.

He was arrested on 23 July 1997 in Kenya in the coastal town of Mombasa and stood before the UN court in Arusha, Tanzania.

He was given two concurrent sentences of 12 years each after admitting to direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity.

'Responsible and culpable'

Mr Ruggiu admitted that he "incited murders and caused serious attacks on the physical and/or mental well-being of members of the Tutsi population with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, an ethnic or racial group".


Refugees
The war in Rwanda left thousands homeless
According to the charges levelled against Mr Ruggiu, the radio station was used to preach "the ideology and plans of Hutu extremists in Rwanda".

He admitted to the tribunal that "certain people were killed in Rwanda in 1994 and that I was responsible and culpable.

"These are events which I regret, but they are the reality and I decided to admit them," Mr Ruggiu told the court, which sits in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.

"I admit that it was indeed a genocide and that unfortunately I took part in it," he said.

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

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See also:

21 Jun 99 | Monitoring
The sound of hatred
18 Mar 99 | Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
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