U.N. - Rwanda media fanned genocide with radio, TV spots

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- The message said the enemy was easy to spot because of his height and his nose: "Break the nose," said the voice on the radio as gangs armed with machetes massacred minority Tutsis in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Stephen Rapp, senior prosecutor at the U.N. International Tribunal for Rwanda, played the recording as closing arguments began Monday in the trial of three men accused of churning out hate propaganda that fueled the 100-day slaughter orchestrated by an extremist Hutu government.


"This is intimidation in an unambiguous way," Rapp said.

The tribunal has charged three men with conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and complicity in genocide in which at least half a million Tutsis and political moderates from the Hutu majority were killed.

The three are: Ferdinand Nahimana, one of Rwanda's leading intellectuals in the 1980s and the managing director of Free Radio-TV of the Thousand Hills, or RTLM; Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a civil servant and RTLM board member; and Hassan Ngeze, editor of the newspaper Kangura.

Last September, the three-judge panel hearing the case acquitted the three men of the separate charge of crimes against humanity for murder after the prosecution acknowledged it did not have sufficient evidence.

Nahimana and Ngeze were in the court, but Barayagwiza has boycotted the proceedings, which began nearly three years ago in Arusha, in northern Tanzania.

"The media was used as a tool of persecution and direct and public incitement to the population to commit genocide," Rapp said after playing another recording of an RTLM broadcast that urged Hutus to eat the hearts of dead Tutsis.

The broadcasts and newspaper articles served to whip up the killings across the tiny central African nation, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutor Simone Monasebian said the effect of the hate propaganda was like pouring gasoline on a fire that spread across the entire country.

The tribunal has convicted 12 people and acquitted one. There are 56 defendants in detention.

The prosecution continues its arguments today.

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