Georges Ruggiu

01.05.2016 ( Last modified: 08.06.2016 )
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Georges Henri Yvon Joseph Ruggiu was born in Verviers, Belgium, on 12 October 1957. During the events in question, he was a journalist and presenter with the “Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines S.A. (RTLM) and worked in Kigali. Founded in 1993, the RTLM broadcast the ideology and the objectives of extremist Hutus throughout Rwanda until the end of July 1994.

Georges Ruggiu worked for the RTLM between January and July 1994.

From its studios, he reportedly broadcast programmes which:
a) constituted incitement to commit murder or serious attacks against the physical or mental well-being of the Tutsis.
b) constituted acts of persecution against Tutsis, as well as certain Hutus and Belgian citizens.

On 23 July 1997, at the request of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Georges Ruggiu was arrested in Mombassa, Kenya. He was subsequently transferred to the detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania.

legal procedure

On 23 July 1997, at the request of the Prosecutor of the ICTR, Georges Ruggiu was arrested in Mombassa, Kenya. He was subsequently transferred to the detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania.

He was charged on two counts:

– direct and public incitement to commit genocide (Art. 2 § 3 (c) ICTR Statute); and
– crimes against humanity (persecution) (Art. 3 (h) ICTR Statute)

On 15 May 2000, he pleaded guilty to the two counts of indictment.

On 1 June 2000, Georges Ruggiu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. The Prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 20 years.

In reaching its verdict, the Tribunal took note of the following considerations:

a) aggravating circumstances: the particularly serious nature of the infractions, the central role played by the accused, due to his capacity as presenter at the RTLM, in the unfolding of the massacres in Rwanda.
b) mitigating circumstances: the fact that he pleaded guilty, his cooperation throughout the proceedings, the absence of any criminal record, his easy to influence character, his regrets and remorse, the fact that he had played a hand in saving a few Tutsi children, the fact that he neither belonged to the Rwandan ruling elite nor to the decision making body of the RTLM, and finally the fact that he had not participated directly in the massacres.

Georges Ruggiu did not appeal his sentence.

In February 2008, the ICTR decided to transfer Ruggiu to Italy, where he will serve the remainder of his sentence.

On 21 April 2009, he benefited from an early release without the responsible of the ICTR knowing.


Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.


In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. Since its inception, 92 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR. Some proceedings are however still ongoing.

The ICTR is primed to close down in 2015.

Regarding what will happen to the functions and activities that will outlive the ICTR, the UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.


In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.