February 28, 2008 / 1:47 PM / 11 years ago

Rwanda genocide court transfers Belgian reporter

NAIROBI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A Belgian journalist jailed for inciting Rwanda’s 1994 genocide was handed over on Thursday to police from Italy, where he will serve the rest of his sentence.

Georges Ruggiu, 50, is the only non-Rwandan convicted by an international court in Tanzania that is trying the architects of the slaughter. It jailed him for 12 years in June 2000.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said the transfer followed an agreement between the United Nations and the Italian government, and a recent ruling by a Rome court that allowed ICTR sentences to be enforced in Italy.

Ruggiu, a former school teacher whose father was Italian, was a presenter on Rwanda’s Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) during the genocide and an infamous voice behind what became known as "hate radio".

As soldiers and ethnic Hutu militias butchered some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days of bloodshed, he and others at the station exhorted the killers to greater efforts.

He fled Rwanda afterwards but was arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, in July 1997 and transferred to the ICTR in northern Tanzania.

He pleaded guilty to charges of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, and later testified against his former boss and others at RTLM. He also converted to Islam while behind bars.

In was not immediately clear where in Italy Ruggiu would serve out the rest of his jail time. In its sentencing, the ICTR said his time in custody since his arrest should be taken into account, meaning he could be eligible for release in mid-2009. (Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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