Arusha, 28 May, 2009 (FH)-The Rwanda genocide-convict Italian-Belgian journalist, Georges Ruggiu, has got an early release in violation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Statute, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Ruggiu, who was serving final one year of his 12-years sentence in Italy, was supposed to be released on 20 July, this year.

However, the release comes in violation of the Article 27 of the UN Court's Statute, which clearly stipulates that only the ICTR President can decide on an early release to any convict, no matter where the sentence was being served.

"According to information gathered informally by the Tribunal from local judicial authorities in Italy, Mr Ruggiu was released on 21 April 2009,'' the ICTR Spokesman, Roland Amoussouga, told Hirondelle Agency Thursday.

He underscored that ICTR to date has not received any response to the two official communications sent to the Italian Minister for Justice as required under the provision of an agreement between Italy and the United Nations on the enforcement of the ICTR sentences.

"These two communications requested that Italy promptly notifies the Tribunal of any early release to which Ruggiu might be eligible under the Italian law so as to enable the ICTR President to make a final decision on this matter," added Amoussouga. 

Ruggiu was transferred from Arusha to Italy in February, last year. He was the only foreigner charged before ICTR with genocide and crimes against humanity.

Ruggiu was a journalist at the hate- radio RTLM during the 1994 killings, worst in modern history. He admitted to have broadcast hate-speech and reports which accelerated the rate of April-July, 1994 slaughter.

The journalist overturned his initial not guilty plea of October, 1997 to guilty plea in May 2000 and a month later, he was handed down a 12 year jail.

He was arrested on an ICTR indictment in 1997 in Mombasa, Kenya.

Ruggiu is the fourth genocide convict to have been released.

Next month, another genocide-convict, Samuel Imanishimwe, former Lieutenant in FAR Army during the 1994 genocide, will complete his 12 year sentence. He is serving his sentence in Mali.

The ICTR, which was set up by the UN Security Council in November 1994 to try key suspects of the genocide, has so far convicted 38 persons, including six acquittals.


© Hirondelle News Agency