Kigali, December 7, 2009 (FH) -Valerie Beremiki, a former anchorwoman of the extremist Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), on Saturday begged mercy for inciting to commit genocide.

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Beremiki, 54, is charged with "planning of genocide, incitement to commit genocide, complicity in murder of several people and families ". She was appearing before a Gacaca court in Nyakabanda (Kigali).

"I apologize for all these innocent victims. When I was young, I was always told that Tutsis were bad people", she explained.

In front of an audience hanging upon her every word, she said that a delegation from the army's chief of staff held a meeting  with RTLM journalists the day after the crash of Juvenal Habyarimana's plane.

"The message to be spread was clear : complete 1959's Revolution... All Tutsis are bad and have to be killed", she told the audience.

" I understood that I had to fight the enemy with the only weapon in my possession: the microphone".

When RTLM was founded in 1993, Beremeki was working as a "war correspondent" for Umurwanashyaka , a newspaper owned by the ruling party, the MRND. Recruited by the RTLM, she was asked to " fight the Tutsi enemy with a microphone".

" I have done irreparable harm", she said. However, she added she was "psychologically ready to reintegrate the Rwandan society".

The Gacaca court will deliver its sentence on Saturday.

Valerie Beremiki was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and transferred to Rwanda in June 1999.

She has already been condemned to a prison term by other Gacaca courts.

The Gacaca courts, adapted from a form of Rwandan traditional justice, are tasked with trying suspected perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide which left some 800,000  people dead, according to the UN.   These village courts, whose judges are elected from the community, can hand down sentences up to life imprisonment, which is now the maximum penalty in Rwanda. They have so far tried more than a million people.


© Hirondelle News Agency