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Rwandan Journalists Found Guilty of Using Media to Incite Genocide - 2003-12-03

Three Rwandan journalists were found guilty Wednesday of using broadcast and print media to help inflame Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Two men were jailed for life and the third for 35 years.

The prosecution showed how the three men, two of whom worked for the Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines and one for an extremist magazine called Kangura, used the media to turn Hutus against Tutsis.

A spokesman for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Bocar Sy, says the punishment of the three is severe.

"The maximum is life imprisonment. Two of them get life imprisonment, while the third one get[s] 35 years. From the point of view of the tribunal and the judges, justice was done," he said.

The men faced a number of charges of genocide and related crimes. All three denied the charges.

The prosecution argued that the men, in their capacities as media practitioners, successfully encouraged Hutus to kill Tutsis.

Of particular concern was a list of what was called the ten commandments for Hutus, written by the editor of the extremist magazine Kangura.

The editor, Hassan Ngeze, wrote that the country's Tutsis were oppressors and had to be eliminated. For that, and other work, he was given life in jail.

Also receiving a life sentence was founder and manager of the Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines, Ferdinand Nahimana. The station's co-founder and manager, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, was handed the 35-year sentence.

The presiding Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa told Nahimana that he used his radio to destroy human beings. Tribunal spokesman Mr. Sy read to VOA some of Judge Pillay's comments to Nahimana.

"You were fully aware of the power of words, and you used the radio, the medium of communication with the widest public reach, to disseminate hatred and violence. Without firearms, machetes, or any physical weapon, you caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians," he said.

The tribunal was set up shortly after Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.