Arusha, February 27, 2002 (FH) - Italo-Belgian former RTLM radio presenter Georges Ruggiu, sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment for inciting the 1994 genocide, began testifying for the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday. Ruggiu is testifying in the trial of three suspects who allegedly used the media to fuel the genocide in Rwanda.

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The so-called 'media' trial is composed of former director of the Rwandan national information office (ORINFOR), an organisation controlling the state radio, television and other state media outlets, Ferdinand Nahimana. Nahimana is alleged to have been a founder and one of the leaders of a "hate-radio", Radio-Television libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). The trial also includes former editor of newspaper "Kangura", Hassan Ngeze and former director of political affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and member of the board at RTLM, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza. The three are charged with several counts of genocide, genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Ruggiu was a journalist at RTLM during the genocide. He was originally due to be tried with Nahimana, Barayagwiza and Ngeze. However, he was taken out of the case after he pleaded guilty to inciting genocide and to persecution, as a crime against humanity. The ICTR sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment on June 1st, 2000. Obsevers say Ruggiu will mainly testify on one of the central issues in this case : whether or not Nahimana was director of RTLM. Nahimana's defence has denied the prosecutor's allegations that Nahimana was director of RTLM. Ruggiu is the first ex-RTLM journalist to testify in this trial. Another former RTLM journalist, Valérie Bemeriki, is in detention in Rwanda on genocide charges. It is yet unclear whether she will testify in the media trial. Other RTLM journalists, including editor Gaspard Gahigi and presenters Noel Hitimana and Habimana Kantano, are thought to be dead. This trial is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (Presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de ZoysaGunawardana of Sri Lanka. GG/JA/FH(ME-0227e)