Convicted journalist released early in violation of ICTR Statute 29 May 2009
An Italian-Belgian journalist convicted for his acts during the 1994 genocide has been granted early release from his 12-year sentence by an Italian court.

The ICTR had not agreed to Ruggiu's releaseOn 21 April 2009, the Italian-Belgian journalist, Georges Ruggiu, was granted early release by an Italian court in violation of the Statue of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), it was reported on 29 May 2009. According to Article 27 of the Statute, only the President of the ICTR may decide on the early release of those convicted by the UN ad hoc Tribunal, no matter where the sentence is being served.

Ruggiu was serving the last year of a 12-year sentence handed down by the Tribunal on 1 June 2000 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity. In February 2008, he was transferred to Italy to serve the remainder of his sentence and was due to be released on 20 July 2009.

Ruggiu remains the only non-Rwandan to be convicted by the ICTR for involvement in the genocide and becomes the fourth person convicted by the Tribunal to be released after serving a sentence.

Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines

During the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Ruggiu worked as a journalist and broadcaster for Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), the extremist radio station notorious for its anti-Tutsi propaganda and brought to international attention by the so-called ‘Media Trial’ at the ICTR. For his part, Ruggiu delivered broadcasts inciting the public to massacre the Tutsi population of Rwanda. After the genocide Ruggiu fled to Zaïre (now the DRC) and later to Kenya where he was eventually arrested in 1997 at the request of the ICTR Prosecutor. On 12 May 2000, Ruggiu pleaded guilty to the two charges in the Indictment, admitting that he had incited murders of members of the Tutsi population with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda.

Despite complaints by Rwanda about its leniency, Ruggiu’s 12-year sentence was justified by the Trial Chamber due to his demonstration of remorse, the fact that he had not directly participated in the massacres, and his agreement to testify against the three defendants in the ‘Media Trial’.

According to the ICTR it has yet to receive a response to two official communications sent to the Italian authorities concerning Ruggiu's early release.

Georges Ruggiu

Commentary: The "Media case" before the Rwanda Tribunal

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Research files /
Documents de recherche

Georges Ruggiu

Court documents / Documents juridiques

Amended Indictment

Acte d'accusation amendé

10 December 1998

Judgement and sentence

Jugement et sentence

1 June 2000

Related news items / Informations complémentaires

Historic verdicts for ICTR Appeals Chamber

Verdicts historiques devant la Chambre d'appel du TPIR

28 November 2007