28.11.07 - ICTR/MEDIAS - UN COURT SLASHES SENTENCES ON MEDIA BOSSES

Arusha, 28 November 2007 (FH) - The UN Appeals Court for Rwanda Wednesday revised and reduced sentences of three media bosses implicated in the 1994 genocide, reports independent Hirondelle News Agency.   
2 min 22Approximate reading time

Presiding Judge Fausto Pocar dismissed the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide against two executives of the Radio Television Libres des Milles Collines (RTLM) and an editor of local vernacular Kangura (which means wake it up) newspaper.
 
Founder of RTLM, Ferdinand Nahimana, who was sentenced to life imprisonment together with Editor-in-Chief of Kangura, Hassan Ngeze, in December 2003 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) lower court, will now serve a sentence of 30 and 35 years respectively.
 
The Director the hate radio, RTLM, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza’s sentence has been slashed from 35 to 32 years. The sentences include the time already spent by the accused.
 
The Judge said that RTLM broadcasts and Kangura articles “contributed significantly to acts of genocide.”
 
The Court also affirmed the superior responsibility of Nahimana and Barayagwiza over their subordinates.
 
Barayagwiza was also found guilty of instigating militants of CDR party and their youth wing—Impuzamugambi.
 
However, the five-panel judges failed to collaborate the lower court’s December decision of events before the April 1994 killings, which claimed lives of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
 
The sentencing ends a landmark seven-year trial that highlighted what became known as the "hate media" during the tragic period in the African country's history.
 
 Phrases like "go to work" and "the graves are not yet full" were broadcast during the spring of 1994. The Kangura newspaper called on citizens (extremist Hutus) to exterminate the "cockroach ethnic Tutsis". Kangura published what it called the "Hutu 10 Commandments" telling people to kill.
 
"Let whatever is smoldering erupt," Ngeze wrote in the newspaper days before the genocide.
 
RTLM also broadcast the names and addresses of members of the country's Tutsi minority and of Hutus who sympathized with them.
 
"Nahimana chose a path of genocide and betrayed the trust placed in him as an intellectual and a leader. He caused the deaths of thousands of civilians without a firearm," said judge presiding Navanethem Pillay when delivering judgement in 2003. Pillay is now a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
 
Barayagwiza and Ngeze boycotted Wednesday’s judgement. Barayagwiza said he had no confidence in the court whereas Ngeze claimed he was unwell to attend it.
 
Another Belgian-Italian Journalist who also worked for RTLM, Georges Ruggiu, was jailed for 12 years in 2000 after pleading guilty to direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
 
Ngeze’s lawyer Bharat Chadha said that ‘’ it is a harsh punishment of 35 years when most of the counts have been dismissed by the appeals court. They relied evidence on only one witness.’’
 
Barayagwiza’s counsel, Peter Herbert told Hirondelle:’’ It’s a political judgement.The evidence based is weak. It’s travesty of justice.”
 
ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow said that they will study carefully the judgement so that  the oversights do not recur in future cases. ‘’The Appeal’s court decision is final and we have to accept it.’’
 
The Rwanda’s Special Representative to the Tribunal, Aloys Mutabingwa, said that ‘’ this is most controversial appeals chamber judgment he has heard (since the establishment of the UN court).’’
 
‘’The perpetuation of genocide is not from the 6th of April 1994. It was systematically planned much earlier. It was premeditated (genocide),’’ he stressed.
 
SC/PB

© Hirondelle News Agency