28.02.08 - ICTR/ITALY - GENOCIDE CONVICTED EX-JOURNALIST RUGGIU TO SERVE SENTENCE IN ROME

Arusha, 28 February 2008 (FH) - The Italian-Belgian journalist, George Ruggiu, 51, convicted of genocide and sentenced to 12 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), flew Thursday to Italy where he will serve the remainder of his sentence.
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According to ICTR Press Release, the transfer follows an agreement of enforcement of sentences signed between the government of Italy and the United Nations in March 2004.

The only non-Rwandan accused by the ICTR, Ruggiu was handed over to a delegation of the international police co-operation service of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, added the statement. He was flown by a special Italian Air Force flight to Italy.

He has 17 months in prison left to serve.

During the 1994 genocide, Ruggiu worked at the hate -radio at the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM).

During his testimony in the "Media trial" he explained that he had landed "by chance" at the RTLM after having met in Brussels Rwandan Hutu-extremists.

In recorded programmes of RTLM, Ruggiu clearly called on people to go to "work" at the roadblocks. The work meant to start killings of ethnic Tutsis.

Born on 12 October 1957 in Verviers, Belgium, he also has Italian citizenship. He was arrested on 23 July 1997 in Mombasa, Kenya.

The former journalist was convicted on 1 June 2000 after having pleaded guilty to direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution.

Five other countries have signed the enforcement of sentences agreement with ICTR--Mali, Benin, Swaziland, France and Sweden.

Mali has hosted since December 2001 six convicts.

ER/PB/MM/SC
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