The Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Mr. Adama Dieng, announced today the death of Joseph Serugendo a convicted person who was a former member of the governing board of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and of the National Committee of the Interahamwe za MRND. He passed away after a long illness on Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 6:55 am at the Nairobi Hospital, Kenya. The Tribunal offers its deepest condolences to his family.
On 2 June 2006, Serugendo was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment by Trial Chamber I of the ICTR. In his guilty plea, 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.
In sentencing him, the Chamber took into account not only 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. At his sentencing hearing Serugendo expressed “sincere and profound regrets” to the “victims of the genocide perpetrated in my country Rwanda in 1994” and accepted responsibility for “my role in this unspeakable tragedy.” A copy of his Expression of Profound Regrets and his Declaration Addressed to the Rwandan People were admitted into evidence by the Trial Chamber.
Serugendo was suffering from a terminal illness which was significant among the mitigating factors in his sentencing. The Registry had been instructed to continue to ensure that he be provided with adequate medical attention, including hospitalization, to the extent necessary.
Serugendo was arrested in Gabon on 16 September 2005 and transferred to Arusha on 23 September 2005. He entered into a plea agreement with the Prosecution on 16 February 2006. On 15 March 2006, he pleaded guilty to two counts under an amended indictment, which plea was accepted by the Chamber.