Arusha, 28February 2008 (FH) - An Italian-Belgian journalist George Ruggiu, sentenced to 12 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for his role in the 1994 genocide, took flight Thursday for Italy where he will serve the remainder of his sentence, according to the agreement made between Italy and the United Nations, learnt from the ICTR official.

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The only non-Rwandan accused by the ICTR, Ruggiu “was handed over the delegation of the Italian Ministry for Interior”, indicated the tribunal source. He flight along the Italian Army craft, the statement continued to reveal. It also indicated that Ruggiu has 17months before him as the remainder of his sentence. During the 1994 period, Ruggiu was journalist at the Radio-television Libre des Milles Collines(RTLM). The witnesses for the prosecution during the proceedings of his trial, stated that the accused, before starting his journalistic job at the RTLM, he knew some hutu extremists in Brussels.  In the programs he aired at the radio, he called people to work at the road bloc. During that period, the raods was controlled and supervised by Interahamwe militiamen who stopped Tutsis and massacred them, what they called” work”. Born on 12 October 1957 in Belgium, Ruggiu holds Italian citizenship.  Arrested on July 23, 1997 in Mombassa, Kenya, he was convicted on 1 June 2000 after he has pleaded guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Since then, he has been at the ICTR detention center in Arusha, Tanzania. Isolated from other detenees, he was assigned to clean the prison staff’s vehicules while waiting for the designation of the country to serve his sentence.
In an order issued February 13 by the president of the ICTR, Judge Dennis Byron, accepted the transfer of Ruggiu to Italy prison where he will serve his sentence in Italy in accordance with that country’s law but under the supervision of the tribunal.

It was not mentioned that Ruggiu should expect the reduction od his sentence. Several requests of provisional release have been refuted until now.

On 17 March 2004, the Italian government signed an agreement with the United Nations to allow the ICTR convicts serve their sentences in Italian prisons.

According to the ICTR statute, the prison sentence are served in Rwanda or in a state which made an agreement with the UN Security Counsel to host convicted. indicated by the ICTR which is on the list the The ICTR has similar agreement with five other countries-- Mali, Benin, Swaziland, France and Sweden.

Mali is hosting six convicts, including the former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda since December 2001.

ER/PB/MM/SC© Hirondelle News Agency