Joseph Serugendo, a member of the governing board of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and of the National Committee of the Interahamwe za MRND, was today sentenced to six years imprisonment. He had pleaded guilty to direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity.
Serugendo admitted to having provided technical assistance and moral support to the RTLM in order to ensure its ability to continuously disseminate an anti-Tutsi message both prior to and during the genocide. He further acknowledged having used his influence within the MRND and Interahamwe to incite others to kill or cause serious harm to members of the Tutsi population, with the aim of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group.
The Chamber took into account the gravity of these crimes, but also Serugendo’s guilty plea and his substantial cooperation with the Prosecution. 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 in Rwanda.
Serugendo has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He has very fragile health and a poor prognosis. The Registry was instructed to continue to ensure that he gets adequate medical treatment, including hospitalization, to the extent necessary.
The judgment was rendered by Trial Chamber I, composed of Judge Erik Møse, presiding. Judge Jai Ram Reddy, and Judge Sergei Alekseevich Egorov, following a sentencing hearing on 1 June 2006. Serugendo was originally indicted by the Tribunal on 22 July 2005. He was arrested in Gabon on 16 September 2005 and transferred to Arusha on 23 September 2005. Serugendo entered into a plea agreement with the Prosecution on 16 February 2006. On 15 March 2006, he pleaded guilty to two counts of an amended indictment and this plea was accepted by the Chamber.
Defence Counsel for Serugendo was Cecil Maruma, whereas the Prosecution was represented by Stephen Rapp, Chief of Prosecutions, and William Egbe, Senior Trial Attorney.
The judgement brings the number of persons whose trials have been completed to 28. Cases against 27 accused are on-going and 14 detainees are awaiting the start of their trials.