Rwandan war crimes suspect sentenced to 6 years imprisonment by UN court

2 June 2006 – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has sentenced a man who supported broadcasts inciting genocide during the 1994 massacres to six years of imprisonment.

Joseph Serugendo, a former board member of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and the National Committee of the Interahamwe za MRND, had pleaded guilty to charges of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution, ICTR officials said today in a statement released from Arusha, where the court is based.

Mr. Serugendo admitted to having provided technical assistance and moral support to the broadcasting service in order to ensure its ability to continuously disseminate an anti-Tutsi message before and during the genocide, officials said, adding that he also acknowledged having used his influence within the MRND and Interahamwe to incite others to kill or cause serous harm to members of the Tutsi population.

“The Chamber took into account the gravity of those crimes, but also Serugendo’s guilty plea and his substantial cooperation with the Prosecution,” the statement said. “The Chamber noted that he expressed genuine remorse and a desire to help establish the truth regarding the events in Rwanda. This may encourage others to acknowledge their personal involvement in the 1994 genocide and contribute to national reconciliation.”

Mr. Serugendo has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The court has asked the officials concerned to ensure he gets adequate medical treatment, including hospitalization. He was arrested in Gabon in September, 2005.

The court decision was led by Judge Erik Mase. It brings the number of persons tried by the tribunal to 28.

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