Prosecutor v. Ruggiu, Case No. ICTR-97-32-I, Judgment and Sentence (June 1, 2000).
TRIAL CHAMBER I
Judge Navanethem Pillay, Presiding
Judge Erik Møse
Judge Pavel Dolenc
Registrar: Dr Agwu Ukiwe Okali
Decision of: 1 June 2000
Case No. ICTR-97-32-I
JUDGEMENT AND SENTENCE
Office of the Prosecutor:
Carla del Ponte
William T. Egbe
Counsel for the Accused:
Jean Louis Gilissen
- THE PROCEEDINGS
- On 9 July 1997, the Prosecutor addressed a formal request to the authorities
of the Republic of Kenya pursuant to Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and
Evidence (hereinafter "the Rules") for the arrest and provisional custody
of Georges Ruggiu (hereinafter "the accused").
- By Order of 16 July 1997, Judge Laïty Kama, pursuant to a request made
by the Prosecutor under Rule 40 bis of the Rules, ordered the transfer
and provisional detention of the accused to the United Nations Detention Facility
- On 23 July 1997, officers of the Kenya Police Criminal Investigation Department
arrested the accused during the NAKI operation in Mombasa. His transfer to
the Detention Facility in Arusha was made on the basis of said order.
- The indictment against the accused of 30 September 1997 was confirmed by
Judge Lennart Aspegren on 9 October 1997. On 24 October 1997, at his initial
appearance, before Trial Chamber I, the accused pleaded not guilty to the
two counts against him, namely direct and public incitement to commit genocide
and crimes against humanity (persecution).
- Following complaints from the accused of several incidents at the Detention
Facility, the Prosecutor, by request dated 5 June 1998, sought orders under
Rule 64 for the modification of the conditions of detention of the accused.
On 12 June 1998, Judge Laïty Kama, then President of the Tribunal, authorised
the Registrar to take appropriate measures to ensure the separation of the
accused from other detainees.
- On 28 June 1999, the accused filed an application requesting further modification
of the conditions of his detention, on the grounds inter alia, that
threats to his personal security had been further aggravated by several new
developments. On 14 July 1999, Judge Erik Møse, Acting President of
the Tribunal, authorised the transfer of the accused to a separate detention
facility in Arusha.
- On 11 April 2000, the Defence applied for leave to change the plea to guilty
and filed a Plea Agreement, with the Prosecutor, in support of the Motion.
- On 9 May 2000, Trial Chamber I granted the Defence Motion for protective
measures for Defence witness, "AB".
- At the hearing of 15 May 2000, Trial Chamber I granted the following Motions:
- Prosecution Motion for Leave to Amend the Indictment;
- Defence Motion for Withdrawal of all Pending Motions;
- Defence Motion for Leave to Change the Plea;
- Defence Motion for Admissibility of the Statement of the Witness "BC".
- The Guilty Plea
- On 15 May 2000, having been authorized to change his plea, the accused pleaded
guilty to the two counts set forth in the indictment against him. He confirmed
that he had signed a plea agreement, which was also signed by his Counsel
and the Prosecutor, in which he admitted having committed all the acts to
which he pleaded guilty, as charged by the Prosecutor.
- In accordance with Rule 62(v), the Trial Chamber verified the validity of
the guilty plea. To this end, the Chamber asked the accused:
- If his guilty plea was entered voluntarily, in other words, if he did
so freely and knowingly, without pressure, threats or promises;
- If he clearly understood the charges against him as well as the consequences
of his guilty plea; namely, that he was waiving his right to be tried; and
- If his guilty plea was unequivocal, in other words, if he was aware that
the said plea could not be refuted by any line of defence.
- The accused replied in the affirmative to all these questions.
- Conviction on a Guilty Plea
- Under Count 1, the Prosecutor charges Georges Ruggiu with direct and public
incitement to commit genocide, a crime punishable under Article 2(3)(c) of
- The above crime is extensively discussed in Prosecutor v. Akayesu.
In this case, the Tribunal considered that the mens rea required for
this crime lies in the intent to directly prompt or provoke another to commit
genocide. The person who incites to commit genocide must himself have the
specific intent to commit genocide, namely, to destroy, in whole or in part,
a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.
- In Akayesu, the Tribunal also noted that
"at the time the Convention on Genocide was adopted, the delegates
agreed to expressly spell out direct and public incitement to commit genocide
as a specific crime, in particular, because of its critical role in the planning
of a genocide". In this regard, the delegate from the USSR stated that,
"It was impossible that hundreds of thousands of people should commit so many
crimes unless they had been incited to do so and unless the crimes had been
premeditated and carefully organized. He asked how in those circumstances,
the inciters and organizers of the crime could be allowed to escape punishment,
when they were the ones really responsible for the atrocities committed."
- The Tribunal held, in the same case, that the crime of genocide is so serious
that the direct and public incitement to commit genocide must be punished
as such, even if the incitement failed to produce the result expected by the
perpetrator. In this sense, the Rwandan Penal Code provides that direct and
public incitement or provocation is a form of complicity. In fact, Article
91 subparagraph 4 provides that an accomplice shall mean "A person or persons
who, whether through speeches, shouting or threats uttered in public places
or at public gatherings, or through the sale or dissemination, offer for sale
or display of written material or printed matter in public places or at public
gatherings or through the public display of placards or posters, directly
incite(s) the perpetrator or perpetrators to commit such action, without prejudice
regarding the penalties to be applicable to those who incite others to commit
offences, even where such incitement fails to produce results."
- In Akayesu, the Tribunal considered, and this is particularly relevant
to the present case, that "the public element of incitement to commit genocide
may be better appreciated in light of two factors: the place where the incitement
occurred and whether or not [incitement] was selective or limited. A line
of authority commonly followed in Civil law systems would regard words as
being public where they were spoken aloud in a place that were public by definition.
According to the International Law Commission, public incitement is characterized
by a call for criminal action to a number of individuals in a public place
or to members of the general public at large by such means as the mass media,
for example, radio or television." In the instant case, the accused’s acts
constitute public incitement. His messages were broadcast in a media forum
and to members of the general public.
- Under Count 2, the Prosecutor charges Georges Ruggiu with Crimes against
Humanity (Persecution), a crime punishable under Article 3(h) of the Statute.
- The Trial Chamber has examined significant legal precedents related to the
crime of persecution, including the Judgement of Julius Streicher. In
that historic case, The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg held
that the publisher of a private, anti-Semitic weekly newspaper "Der Stürmer"
incited the German population to actively persecute the Jewish people. The
Tribunal found that "Streicher’s incitement to murder and extermination at
the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions
clearly constitutes persecution on political and racial gounds in connection
with War Crimes as defined by the Charter, and constitutes a Crime against
Humanity". The Streicher Judgement is particularly relevant to the
present case since the accused, like Streicher, infected peoples’ minds with
ethnic hatred and persecution.
- In the case The Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadic, the Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) held that "the determination of the elements comprising
the mens rea of crimes against humanity has proved particularly difficult
and controversial. Nevertheless, the requisite mens rea for crimes
against humanity appears to be the intent to commit the underlying
offence, combined with the knowledge of the broader context in which
that offence occurs". In the case The Prosecutor v. Kayishema, the
Tribunal for Rwanda stated that: "The perpetrator must knowingly commit crimes
against humanity in the sense that he must understand the overall context
of his act. […] Part of what transforms an individual’s act(s) into a crime
against humanity is the inclusion of the act within a greater dimension of
criminal conduct. Therefore an accused should be aware of this greater dimension
in order to be culpable thereof. Accordingly, actual or constructive knowledge
of the broader context of the attack, meaning that the accused must know that
his act(s) is part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population
and pursuant to some kind of policy or plan, is necessary to satisfy the requisite
mens rea element of the accused."
- In The Prosecutor v. Zoran Kupreskic, the ICTY has summarized the
elements that comprise the crime of persecution as follows: "a) those elements
required for all crimes against humanity under the Statute, b) a gross or
blatant denial of a fundamental right reaching the same level of gravity as
the other acts prohibited under Article 5, c) discriminatory grounds."
- The Trial Chamber considers that when examining the acts of persecution
which have been admitted by the accused, it is possible to discern a common
element. Those acts were direct and public radio broadcasts all aimed at singling
out and attacking the Tutsi ethnic group and Belgians on discriminatory grounds,
by depriving them of the fundamental rights to life, liberty and basic humanity
enjoyed by members of wider society. The deprivation of these rights can be
said to have as its aim the death and removal of those persons from the society
in which they live alongside the perpetrators, or eventually even from humanity
- The accused has affirmed his Guilty Plea and has fully confessed to all
the relevant facts alleged in support of Counts 1 and 2 of the Indictment.
It is clear from the Plea Agreement, the Briefs submitted by the Parties,
the oral arguments and the accused’s address to the Chamber that there is
no material disagreement between the Parties about the facts in support of
the two counts of the Indictment. The Chamber therefore concludes that the
Guilty Plea is based on sufficient facts, firstly, for the crimes charged
and, secondly, for the accused’s participation therein.
- Accordingly, the Chamber finds Georges Ruggiu guilty of the crime of direct
and public incitement to commit genocide and of crime against humanity (persecution).
II. LAW AND APPLICABLE PRINCIPLES
- Applicable Texts
- The relevant legal texts are Articles 22 (judgement), 23 (penalties) and
26 (enforcement of sentences) of the Statute. Rules 100, 101, 102, 103 and
104 of the Rules cover sentencing procedure on a guilty plea, penalties, status
of a convicted person, place and supervision of imprisonment, respectively.
- Scale of Sentences Applicable to an Accused Found Guilty of One of the
Crimes Listed in Article 2 or 3 of the Statute of the Tribunal
- It follows from the provisions cited above that the only penalty the Tribunal
can impose on an accused who pleads guilty or is convicted, as such, is a
term of imprisonment up to and including a life sentence. The Statute of the
Tribunal excludes other forms of punishment such as the death sentence, penal
servitude or a fine.
- The relevant provision here is Rule 101:
- A person convicted by the Tribunal may be sentenced to imprisonment for
a fixed term or the remainder of his life.
- In determining the sentence, the Trial Chamber shall take into account the
factors mentioned in Article 23(2) of the Statute, as well as such factors
(i) any aggravating circumstances;
(ii) any mitigating circumstances including the substantial co-operation
with the Prosecutor by the convicted person before or after conviction;
(iii) the general practice regarding prison sentences in the courts of
(iv) the extent to which any penalty imposed by a court of any State
on the convicted person for the same act has already been served, as referred
to in Article 9(3) of the Statute.
- The Trial Chamber shall indicate whether multiple sentences shall be served
consecutively or concurrently.
- Credit shall be given to the convicted person for the period, if any, during
which the convicted person was detained in custody pending his surrender to
the Tribunal or pending trial or appeal.
- Rwanda, like all the States which have incorporated crimes against humanity
or genocide in their domestic legislation, has envisaged the most severe penalties
in the criminal legislation for these crimes. To this end, the Rwandan Organic
Law on the Organization of Prosecutions for Offences constituting the Crime
of Genocide or Crimes against Humanity, committed since 1 October 1990, adopted
in 1996, groups accused persons into four categories as follows:
(a) persons whose criminal acts or those whose acts place them among planners,
organizers, supervisors and leaders of the crime of genocide or of a crime
(b) Persons who acted in positions of authority at the national, prefectural,
communal, sector or cell, or in a political party, the army, religious organizations,
or militia and who perpetrated or fostered such crimes;
(c) Notorious murderers who by virtue of the zeal or excessive malice with
which they committed atrocities, distinguished themselves in their areas
of residence or where they went;
(d) Persons who committed acts of sexual violence.
Persons whose criminal acts or whose acts of criminal participation place
them among perpetrators, conspirators or accomplices of intentional homicide
or of serious assault against the person causing death.
Persons whose criminal acts or whose acts of criminal participation make
them guilty of other serious assaults against the person.
Persons who committed offences against property.@
- Persons in Category 1 are mandatorily liable to the death penalty, persons
in Category 2 to life imprisonment and for persons in Category 3, the term
of imprisonment shall be of shorter duration.
- The Prosecutor argues that the accused falls under Category 1. It may well
be argued, in light of the admissions, that he is more likely to fall under
Category Two. It is noteworthy that, under the Organic Law, the sentence for
a confession and a guilty plea made by offenders in Category Two, prior to
prosecution, is imprisonment for 7 to 11 years (Art. 15(a)), and for a confession
and a guilty plea, after prosecution, imprisonment for 12 to 15 years (Art.
- While the Chamber will refer as much as practicable to the sentencing provisions
under the Organic law, it will also exercise its unfettered discretion to
determine sentences, taking into account the facts of the case and the circumstances
of the accused. In the words of the Appeals Chamber in the recent judgement
Omar Serushago v. the Prosecutor, "It is the settled jurisprudence
of the ICTR that the requirement that ‘the Trial Chambers shall
have recourse to the general practice regarding prison sentences in the courts
of Rwanda’ does not oblige the Trial Chambers to conform to that practice;
it only obliges the Trial Chambers to take account of that practice."
- General Principles Regarding the Determination of Sentences
- In determining the sentence, the Chamber is mindful that this Tribunal was
established by the Security Council, pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter
of the United Nations. Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Council has been
empowered to ensure that violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda
in 1994 be halted and redressed. The objective in creating the Tribunal is
to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the atrocities in Rwanda, to put
an end to impunity, and thereby to promote national reconciliation and restoration
- The jurisprudence of the ICTR with regard to penalties has addressed the
principal aims of sentencing, namely retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation
- In determining the sentence, the Chamber is required by Article 23(2) of
the Statute and Rule 101 (B) of the Rules to take into account a number of
factors, keeping in mind the need to individualize the penalty. However, the
Judges Chamber need not limit themselves to the factors mentioned in the Statute
and the Rules. Here again, their unfettered discretion to evaluate the facts
and attendant circumstances should enable them to take into account any other
factor that they deem pertinent.
- Similarly, the factors at issue in the Statute and in the Rules, in the
determination of sentence, cannot be interpreted as having to be necessarily
mandatory or exhaustive.
- CASE ON MERITS
- Taking into consideration the principles set out above, the Trial Chamber
will consider all relevant information submitted by the parties in order to
determine an appropriate sentence, pursuant to Rule 101 of the Rules.
- Facts of the Case
The Accused’s Background
- A review of the accused’s Plea Agreement reveals the following admissions
about his background.
- The accused was a social worker who worked for the Belgian Social Security
Administration. On a voluntary basis, he assisted people in need. He became
interested in Rwanda and the Rwandan people in 1990 when he met Rwandan students,
who were his neighbours in Belgium. His interest in Rwandan politics developed
progressively, and from the middle of 1992, he established further contacts
with Rwandan nationals living in Belgium, including students, political figures,
officers, diplomats and government officials.
- He was one of the founders and an active member of the "Groupe de réflexion
rwando-belge" which published several articles about the Arusha Accords
and the Rwandan political situation.
- His involvement in Rwandan politics became more intense after a first trip
he made to Rwanda in August 1992 to attend a friend’s wedding.
- He progressively became one of the key players in the Rwandan community
in Belgium and participated in major political debates. In early 1993, he
became radically opposed to the Rwandan Patriotic Front ("RPF") and more supportive
of the political regime in Rwanda. In May 1993, he met President Habyarimana
several times on personal invitation. At one meeting, the President solicited
his opinion about means of improving the image of Rwanda and his regime.
- In November 1993, the accused left Belgium to settle in Rwanda, start a
family and work for the National Revolutionary Movement for Development ("MRND").
His employment at the Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines("RTLM")
was facilitated by President Habyarimana who used his influence with Ferdinand
Nahimana, the Director of RTLM, the government radio station.
- While in Rwanda, the accused worked as a journalist and broadcaster for
RTLM radio from 6 January 1994 to 14 July 1994.
The Accused’s Role during the Events in Rwanda
- On 11 May 2000, the Parties submitted a document entitled "Plea Agreement
between Georges Ruggiu and the Office of the Prosecutor", signed by the Prosecutor
and Georges Ruggiu and his Defence Counsel. In this document, the accused
assumes full responsibility for all the relevant acts alleged in the two counts
of the indictment. In particular:
(i) The accused admits that he was a journalistic broadcaster for RTLM.
He admits that all broadcasts were directed towards rallying the population
against the "enemy", the RPF and those who were considered to be allies of
the RPF, regardless of their ethnic background. He admits that RTLM broadcasts
generally referred to those considered to be RPF allies as RPF "accomplices".
The meaning of this term gradually expanded to include the civilian Tutsi
population and Hutu politicians opposed to the Interim Government.
(ii) The accused states that in the months following his arrival in Rwanda,
he noticed changes in the Rwandan political scene. The country was slipping
senselessly into further violence against a background of increasing ethnic
problems and rifts.
(iii) The accused acknowledges that the widespread use of the term "Inyenzi"
conferred the de facto meaning of "persons to be killed". Within the
context of the civil war in 1994, the term "Inyenzi" became synonymous
with the term "Tutsi". The accused acknowledges that the word "Inyenzi",
as used in a socio-political context, came to designate the Tutsis as "persons
to be killed". He also admits that during one broadcast he said that the 1959
revolution ought to be completed in order to preserve its achievements.
(iv) The accused admits that as part of the move to appeal for, or encourage,
"civil defence", he made a public broadcast to the population on several occasions
to "go to work". The phrase "go to work" is a literal translation of the Rwandan
expression that Phocas Habimana, Manager of the RTLM, expressly instructed
the accused to use during his broadcasts. With time, this expression came
to clearly signify "go fight against members of the RPF and their accomplices."
With the passage of time, the expression came to mean, "go kill the Tutsis
and Hutu political opponents of the interim government."
(v) The accused also admits having broadcast over the
- he condemned the attitude of Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the Prime Minister,
who was compromising the Rwandan political institutions and, further, demanded
that she leave office;
- he congratulated the valiant combatants who were engaged in a battle
against the "Inyenzi" at Nyamirambo, including civilians, Interahamwe militiamen,
members of political parties and military combatants;
- there would be a reward offered by the government for any one who killed
or captured a white man fighting on the side of the RPF;
- he told Karanganwa to "do a good job" and reminded him that the MRND
Chairman in Kicukiro wanted to establish a civil defence force;
- they were having a"good time"killing the Inyenzi and the population was
determined to fight and chase the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi out of the country. He
further called on the youth to "work" with the Army;
- the civilian population and members of the civil society should remain
vigilant, the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi infiltrators should be identified, and all
suspicious movements should be reported;
- he thanked the civil defence forces and the Rwandan Armed Forces for
ensuring the security of the Rwandan people;
- the population should be mobilised and the youth should "work" throughout
the country with the Army and the government to defend the country.
(vi) The accused admits that he made the following statements during some
of his broadcasts on the RTLM radio station:
- Belgian missiles shot down the President’s plane;
- Belgium is responsible for the oppression of the Hutus by the Tutsis;
- Belgium is supporting the RPF;
- Measures should be taken against Belgium for assassinating President
- Belgians are neo-colonists and should leave Rwanda;
- No co-operation should be extended to Belgium;
- Belgium should apologize and make reparations for the death of President
Habyarimana, for its assistance to the RPF and for all damages;
- In Nyamirambo, three Bazungu (whites) were killed within the RPF ranks.
They were not just any Bazungu. They were Belgians;
- The President’s plane was shot down in Masaka, the security zone controlled
by UNAMIR Belgian soldiers;
- United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda ("UNAMIR") is collaborating
with the RPF, and General Dallaire, the UNAMIR Force Commander is the adviser
for RPF; Dallaire must choose either to do his work or to leave;
- It is absolutely necessary for the Rwandan Government to order Belgians,
and particularly Belgians in UNAMIR, to leave;
- Belgian blackmail of Rwanda should stop.
(vii) The accused admits that he broadcast discriminatory and threatening
remarks over the radio against the political stance adopted by the Belgian
government in Rwanda and the behaviour of UNAMIR, especially the Belgian contingent.
The accused waged a media war against the Belgians over the RTLM to attack
the international policy adopted by the Belgian government towards Rwanda.
(viii) The accused admits that between 8 and 13 April 1994, he was informed
of large-scale infiltration of RPF members into Gikondo. To alert the RTLM
Editor-in-chief, Gaspard Gahigi , who lived in Gikondo, he broadcast a warning
to the Gikondo population about the presence of the infiltrators. Gaspard
Gahigi subsequently explained to the accused that many persons, including
women and children, were killed as a result of the broadcaast.
(ix) The RTLM broadcast the names of persons such as Faustin Tagiramungu,
Prime Minister-designate of the broad-based transitional government formed
pursuant to the Arusha Accords, and Lando Ndasinga, Minister of Social Affairs,
and accused them of being RPF accomplices. Lando Ndasinga was killed on 7
April 1994. The accused admits that during one of the broadcasts, he accused
Tagiramungu of being one of those responsible for the assassination of President
Habyarimana and six other political luminaries, and then broadcast that the
"popular masses were lying in wait" for Tagiramungu.
(x) The accused acknowledges that he, like other RTLM broadcasters, intermittently
played songs, with the intent of encouraging the population to fight the enemy.
One such song is entitled "Naanga Abakwtie", which means, "I do not like
(xi) The accused acknowledges that RTLM broadcasts reflected the political
ideology and plans of extremist Hutus, particularly members of MRND and the
Coalition for the Defence of the Republic ("CDR"). He admits that RTLM broadcasts
incited young Rwandans, Interahamwe militiamen and soldiers to engage
in armed conflict against the "enemy" and its accomplices and to kill and
inflict serious bodily and mental harm on Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
(xii) The accused admits that on 1 June 1994, he congratulated the Interahamwe
and gendarmes of Gitega and Muhima for capturing a 50 Bromville
Mark machine gun, made in the United States of America, from the "enemy".
(xiii) The accused admits that RTLM broadcasters, managerial and editorial
staff bear full responsibility for the 1994 massacre of Tutsis and Hutu opposition
- The accused was fully aware of the mass persecutions of the civilian population
and the Belgian contingent on political or ethnic grounds. The accused acknowledges
that, during a tour of Kigali in mid-April 1994, he became aware of a plan
to destroy the Tutsis as an ethnic group. Furthermore, during the hearing,
at a question from the Bench, as to why he wished to change his plea, the
accused answered: " I realised that some persons in Rwanda had been killed
during the events of 1994, and that I was responsible and guilty of those
facts, that there was a direct link with what I had said and their deaths
and under these circumstances I believed that I had no other choice than to
- Facts related to the sentence
- Pursuant to Rule 23 (2) of the Statute and Article 101 (B) of the Rules,
in imposing the sentences, the Trial Chamber is required to take into account
such factors as the gravity of the offence and the individual circumstances
of the convicted person, as well as mitigating and aggravating factors. These
enumerated circumstances, however, are not mandatory or exhaustive. It is
a matter of individualising the penalty, in consideration of the totality
of the circumstances.
- The Chamber considers the following aggravating factors:
- Gravity of the Offences
- The seriousness of the crimes and the extent of the involvement of the accused
in their commission are factors to be considered in assessing aggravating
circumstances. Genocide and Crimes against humanity are inherently aggravating
offences because they are heinous in nature and shock the collective conscience
- The crimes committed by the accused fall into the most serious categories
of the Rwandan Penal Code.
- The Role of the Accused in the Commission of the Offences
- The media, particularly RTLM radio, was a key tool used by extremists within
the political parties to mobilize and incite the population to commit the
massacres. RTLM had a large audience in Rwanda and became an effective propaganda
instrument. The accused, who was a journalist and broadcaster with the RTLM,
played a crucial role in the incitement of ethnic hatred and violence, which
RTLM vigorously pursued. In his broadcasts at the RTLM, he encouraged setting
up roadblocks and congratulated perpetrators of massacres of the Tutsis at
these roadblocks. In his broadcasts, he continued to call upon the population,
particularly the military and the Interahamwe militia, to finish off
the 1959 revolution. His broadcasts incited massacres of the Tutsi population.
- Following a tour of Kigali City, after 12 April 1994, organized by the Armed
Forces of Rwanda, the accused became aware that the broadcasts from the RTLM
radio station were contributing to the massacres perpetrated against Tutsis.
Yet the accused made a deliberate choice to remain in Rwanda and to continue
his employment with the RTLM. The accused’s radio programmes incited hatred
against Tutsis, Hutu political opponents and Belgians.
- With respect to individualising sentences, this Chamber has unfettered discretion
in its assessment of the facts and the attendant circumstances. Such discretion
allows the Chamber to decide whether to take into account certain factors
in the determination of the sentence. This principle was unequivocally confirmed
by the Appeals Chamber in its 6 April 2000 Decision in the case of the Prosecutor
vs Omar Serushago.
(i) The Guilty Plea
- The guilty plea entered by the accused should be considered as a mitigating
circumstance since resorting to such a plea facilitates the administration
of justice by expediting proceedings and saving resources. The accused’s guilty
plea has spared the Tribunal a lengthy investigation and trial, thus economising
time, effort and resources.
- The accused’s plea reflects his genuine awareness of his guilt, especially
since he changed his plea after much reflection. Indeed, the accused reveals
a desire to assume responsibility for his acts. The accused was fully aware
of the real and direct threat to his personal safety that a guilty plea would
cause. As a result of the accused’s change of plea, he had to be separated
from the other detainees.
- Although not all legal systems recognise that a guilty plea constitutes
a mitigating factor or may be considered advantageous to the accused, in the
instant case, there is need to note the striking significance of the plea.
The accused’s acknowledgement of his mistakes and crimes is a healthy application
of reason and sentiment, which illustrates the beginning of repentance. In
the Erdemovic Judgement, the Chamber observed that an acknowledgement
of guilt constituted proof of the honesty of the perpetrator. This Chamber
is in accord with the opinion in Erdemovic and considers that it is
good policy in criminal matters that some form of consideration be shown towards
those who have confessed their guilt, in order to encourage other suspects
and perpetrators of crimes to come forward. It is important to encourage all
those involved in crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 to confess and admit
their guilt. Confession should then be considered as constituting a mitigating
factor whose weight and importance will still need to be considered by the
(ii) The Accused’s Cooperation with the Prosecutor
- Rule 101 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence expressly provides that
the Trial Chamber take into account "any mitigating circumstance including
the substantial cooperation with the Prosecutor by the convicted person before
or after conviction".
- The Chamber notes that initially, despite his decision to plead not-guilty,
the accused informed the Prosecutor of his desire to cooperate in search for
the truth. In keeping with his desire, the accused instructed his counsel
to make it known that he was not denying that genocide had been committed
against the Tutsi community in Rwanda. Furthermore, the accused was the first
ICTR detainee to accept to submit to questioning under a rogatory commission.
- The Chamber duly notes the cooperation between the accused and the Office
of the Prosecutor. The accused’s cooperation has been substantial, and there
is reason to believe that such cooperation will continue after sentencing.
(iii) Absence of Criminal Record
- The accused has no previous criminal record. Until he committed the acts
to which he is now pleading guilty, the accused had always conducted himself
as an honest and respectable citizen.
- The above facts constitute mitigating circumstances to be considered by
(iv) Character of the Accused
- To individualise the penalty, this Chamber should direct attention to the
character traits of the accused. There are indications that he was strongly
influenced by individuals who were able to take undue advantage of him and
to involve him in a situation in which he committed the crimes for which he
is now pleading guilty.
- The accused is a European with a moderate level of education, who is inspired
by a sense of justice. He also seems to have been an idealist, though he also
appears to have been immature and impulsive. The Prosecution’s investigations
and questions have further confirmed that in addition to his professional
activities, the accused was involved in working with his neighbourhood branch
of the Red Cross in Belgium. He provided assistance to foreigners, the underprivileged
and illiterates in his area. It was in the course of providing such assistance,
spontaneously and voluntarily, to young Rwandan students that the accused
came into contact with Rwandans for the very first time.
- Defence counsel submitted that the accused was indoctrinated by a biased
picture of the socio-political situation in Rwanda. The Chamber takes into
account that the accused was not sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to
make informed assessments of the situation.
- The above factors should be considered as having substantially contributed
to the accused’s involvement in Rwanda.
- Witness "AB", a character witness, knew the accused from October 1992 to
December 1993. She stressed the strong personality of the accused, his intelligence
and good character. According to the witness, the accused could have been
manipulated and misled because of his infatuation with Africa. His reasons
for settling in Africa were sentimental, not political.
- The Defence produced the written testimony of another character witness
"BC". This witness stated that the accused was enlisted by extremists whom
he met in Belgium and who came from the same region as the President of Rwanda.
The accused became interested in Rwandan politics because of his idealism.
His departure for Rwanda was motivated by personal reasons.
- The Chamber finds both witnesses to be credible and accepts that the accused
was a person of good character imbued with ideals before he became involved
in the events in Rwanda.
- On the basis of the character information provided, the Chamber considers
that there is cause to believe that the accused has undergone a profound change
and that there are good reasons to expect his re-integration into society.
(v) Regret and Remorse
- Under questioning, the accused on several occasions spoke of feeling an
overwhelming and enduring sense of regret and remorse. The accused stated
that "in Rwanda, I lost everything, including my honor".
- Counsel for the accused are of the opinion that the sincerity of the accused’s
feelings of regret and remorse indicate sincere repentance.
- There has been a significant change in the accused’s attitude towards victims
of the Rwandan genocide and of the crimes against humanity committed against
Tutsis and Belgian nationals. The accused has been overcome by a profound
sense of guilt and responsibility for the fate of the victims.
- On several occasions, Ruggiu has expressed the hope that his guilty plea
will somehow help alleviate, however slightly, the suffering of the victims
or their families. The accused wishes to do all in his power so that the victims’
rights to their legitimate "status" is recognized and the terrible truth underlying
the crimes committed in Rwanda be exposed.
(vi) Accused’s Assistance to Victims
- The accused explained that on a few occasions he personally assumed responsibility
for conveying Tutsi children in his jeep, hidden under blankets, to a mission
so that they would be cared for and protected.
- Ruggiu explained that he was responsible for feeding a group of farmers
and refugees in Kigali including Tutsis. This information, which was not challenged
by the Prosecutor, is of relevance in guiding this Chamber’s deliberations
regarding mitigating circumstances.
(vii) Accused’s Position with Radio Telévison
Libres des Milles Collines and in Political Life.
- The accused did not hold an official position of authority in Rwanda or
a senior position within RTLM. The accused did not play a role in the organization,
the technical services, or the administration. He exercised no influence over
the content or the selection of the programme broadcasts. He was a subordinate
with no decision-making or autonomous powers, unlike Jean Kambanda in The
Prosecutor v. Jean Kambanda. In that case, the Tribunal found that as
Prime Minister of the Interim Government in Rwanda, Kambanda exercised decisive
power to influence events. The Chamber held that his position
as Prime Minister constituted an aggravating factor and sentenced Kambanda
to life imprisonment. In the instant case, the accused’s lack of executive
authority needs to be emphasized, since it provides an explanation for why
the accused at no time participated in formulating RTLM editorial policy.
In fact, he was openly reprimanded by RTLM management because he "failed to
fully reflect" the Radio station’s policy.
- The Chamber takes note of this absence of authority as a factor in favour
of the accused.
(viii) No Personal Participation in the Killings
- The accused did not personally commit any acts of violence. He did not strike
a blow or fire a shot. In The Prosecutor v. Omar Serushago, the ICTR
in imposing a penalty of 15 years imprisonment considered as aggravating circumstances
Serushago’s high political and military role and the fact that he killed Tutsi
and ordered the killing of several others who were killed as a consequence
of his order.
- The accused did not personally participate in the massacres and did not
use his pistol. The Chamber takes due account of this.
- Having weighed all the circumstances of the case, the Trial Chamber is of
the opinion that circumstances of the accused operate as mitigatory factors
to warrant some clemency.
- Mitigation of punishment in no way reduces the gravity of the crime or the
guilty verdict against a convicted person.
- Sentencing Recommendations
- The Defence does not propose a sentence. However, the Prosecutor recommends
a single concurrent sentence of twenty years for each of the counts.
TRIAL CHAMBER I
FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS
DELIVERING its decision in public;
PURSUANT to Articles 23, 26 and 27 of the Statute and Rules 100,
101, 102, 103 and 104 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence;
NOTING the general practice of sentencing by the Courts of Rwanda;
NOTING the indictment confirmed on 9 October 1997;
NOTING the Guilty Plea of Georges Ruggiu
on 15 May 2000, Trial Chamber I found that,
(i) from 6 January 1994 to 14 July 1994, in his capacity as a journalist
and broadcaster, he made broadcasts over RTLM. These broadcasts were made
in French, however certain terms in Kinyarwanda were also utilized which
had a particular meaning in the socio-cultural context of the time. (paragraph
3.7 of the Indictment).
(ii) through his broadcasts the accused incited to kill and cause serious
bodily or mental harm to Tutsis; persecuted Tutsis, certain Hutus and Belgians.
(paragraph 3.8 of the Indictment).
COUNT 1 of the Indictment: Direct and Public Incitement to Commit
Genocide, as stipulated in Article 2 (3)(c) of the Statute;
1. The acts of the accused, in relation to the events described
in paragraphs 3.7 and 3.8, constitute direct and public incitement to
kill and cause serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi population.
The accused acted with the intention to destroy, in whole or in part,
an ethnic or racial group as such, and has hereby, committed DIRECT AND
PUBLIC INCITEMENT TO COMMIT GENOCIDE stipulated in Article 2 (3)(c) of
the Statute as a crime, for which he is individually responsible pursuant
to Article 6 (1), and which is punishable in reference to Articles 22
and 23 of the Statute of the Tribunal.
COUNT 2 of the Indictment: a Crime against Humanity (Persecution),
as stipulated in Article 3(h) of the Statute;
2. The acts of the accused in relation to the events described in paragraphs
3.7 and 3.8 constitute persecution, on political and racial grounds, in
connection with a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian
population on national, political, ethnic or racial grounds, and he has
thereby committed CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY stipulated in Article 3 (h)
of the Statute as a crime, for which he is individually responsible pursuant
to Article 6 (1), and which is punishable in reference to articles 22
and 23 of the Statute of the Tribunal.
NOTING the briefs submitted by the parties;
HAVING HEARD the Closing Statements of the Prosecutor and the Defence
IN PUNISHMENT OF THE ABOVEMENTIONED CRIMES,
SENTENCES Georges Ruggiu
Born on 12 October 1957 in Verviers, Province of Lieges, Belgium.
COUNT 1 (direct and public incitement to commit Genocide): twelve
(12) years of imprisonment;
COUNT 2 (Crime against humanity): twelve (12) years of imprisonment;
DECIDES that Georges Ruggiu shall serve his two sentences concurrently;
RULES that imprisonment shall be served in a State designated by
the President of the Tribunal, in consultation with the Trial Chamber, and
the said designation shall be conveyed to the Government of Rwanda and the
designated State by the Registry;
RULES that this judgement shall be enforced immediately, and that
until his transfer to the said place of imprisonment, Georges Ruggiu shall
be kept in detention under the present conditions;
RULES that the period of time that the accused has been detained
in custody shall be deducted from his sentence. Under Rule 101 (D) of the
Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Trial Chamber is required to give credit
to the convicted person for the period, if any, during which he was detained
in custody pending his surrender to the International Tribunal, or pending
trial or appeal. In the instant case, the accused was arrested on 23 July
1997. The relevant period of time spent in custody will therefore run from
Arusha, 1 June 2000.
Navanethem Pillay, Presiding Judge
Erik Møse, Judge
Pavel Dolenc, Judge
(Seal of the Tribunal)