Arusha, May 15th, 2000 (FH) - Italo-Belgian former hate-radio presenter Georges Ruggiu on Monday asked forgiveness for his role in the Rwandan genocide, after pleading guilty to genocide incitement and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). "I would like to use this opportunity to speak to all the members of this Tribunal, to Madame the Prosecutor [.

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. . . ], to Rwandan and Belgian citizens who may hear me [. . . ], to all members of UNAMIR [the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda at the time of the genocide] and to all the victims of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and their family members," Ruggiu said. "I ask them to understand that I deeply and sincerely regret what happened in 1994 in Rwanda," he continued. "I beg you to accept my regrets and my apologies for what happened. I know that, alas, I can do nothing more than to testify and to make known the truth, which is horrible. But I am ready to do it to repair the wrong that I have done you, and I ask you once again to forgive me. "Ruggiu was speaking at the end of a lengthy hearing, during which UN Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte asked for a 20-year sentence on the accused. South African presiding judge Navanethem Pillay said the court would pronounce its sentence on June 1st. Ruggiu's defence team pleaded that their client was a lesser-ranking player in the genocide who was manipulated by others and did not understand Rwandan politics. The prosecution argued, however, that Ruggiu knew exactly what he was doing and would face the death penalty if he were tried in Rwanda. AT/JCFH (RG%0515H)