Arusha, December 3, 2003 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday sentenced two former Rwanda media personalities to life in prison, while a third saw his life sentence reduced to 35 years. All of them were found guilty of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity that include extermination and persecution.

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Ferdinand Nahimana, the former director of the extremist radio station, Radio television Libre des Mille collines (RTLM) and Hassan Ngeze, theformer owner and editor-in-chief of Kangura newspaper got maximum sentence. Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, the former director of political affairs in the Rwandan ministry of foreign affairs, was also sentenced to life, but because an earlier decision by the appeals chamber had recognized that during the course of his arrest and transfer to Arusha his rights had been abused, his sentenced was reduced to 35 years. The chamber had ruled in March 2000 that “…for the violation of his rights, the appellant is entitled to a remedy to be fixed at the time ofjudgment. . . ” The remedy in question was that in case Barayagwiza was found not guilty, he would receive financial compensation, but if found guilty, his sentence would be reduced. In passing judgment, the presiding judge of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, laid their individualresponsibility in the media organs they controlled, and for Ngeze and Barayagwiza, the influential role they played in the extremist politicalparty, the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). The judge conceded to the fact that the killings were triggered by the death of former President Habyarimana, but added that if his death was thetrigger, “then RTLM, Kangura and CDR were the bullets and the gun. The trigger had such a deadly impact because the gun was loaded”, she said. In a landmark ruling, the tribunal found that the three had poisoned the minds of their readers and listeners, and that “by words and deeds, they had caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians”. An estimated one million Tutsis and Hutu members of the opposition people died between April and July 1994, and the prosecution has all along alleged that media was used to mobilise the population to kill their Tutsi neighbours. Barayagwiza was also found guilty of distributing weapons to militia that were used to kill innocent civilians, including children and older people. The person who got the harshest remarks during the sentencing was Nahimana. Pillay said that this former history professor was “a renowned academic” and that he “betrayed the trust placed in him as an intellectual and a leader”. Barayagwiza has boycotted the proceedings of the trial from the very beginning, saying that the tribunal was manipulated by the Rwandangovernment, allegations that are echoed by Hassan Ngeze's lawyer, John Floyd from the United States, who said that it was” the most unfair trial he had ever witnessed” in his 35 years of practice. On the other hand, the new prosecutor of the tribunal, Hassan Boubacar Jallow, said that it was a historical ruling and that it would send a toughmessage that there would be no lenient justice to whoever uses the media to target a particular racial or ethnic group. Hassan Ngeze was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya in July 1997 while both Barayagwiza and Nahimana were arrested in Cameroon in March 1996. All have been on trial since October 2000. Judge Pillay was assisted in Trial Chamber One Erik Møse from Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. KN/CE/FH (ME'1203e)