Rwanda has received with shock news of an attempt of the Arusha based International criminal tribunal residual mechanism for Rwanda to release Hassan Ngeze, the notorious Genocide convict who used the media to propagate hatred and incite the Interahamwe militias to kill Tutsis.
A discussion about the role of Rwandan media in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi where more than a million Tutsi were killed, the example at hand is always Kangura, a newspaper that was founded in 1990s to propagate hatred-leading to the Genocide.
The ten Hutu commandments were the culmination of this hatred, but is only one among a mountain of sufferings the paper caused in Rwanda.
Kangura’s owner – Ngeze Hassan was sentenced to 35 years by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) over Genocide crimes and is serving his sentence in Mali.
Now, after completing two-thirds of a 35-year sentence, in March this year, Ngeze applied for early release and his lawyers, expect that it will be granted later this month by Theodor Meron.
Judge Meron is an American who heads the international court which took over responsibility for administering sentences after the tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia were wound up.
Rwanda was shocked by this attempt of an early release, which, if effected would be a case among many.
“We don’t agree that Genocide convicts should be granted an early release. The case of Ngeze Hassan is even terrible; he used his newspaper to incite citizens to massacre and to spread hatred,” said Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG).
“ICTR ruled that Ngeze used the media to propagate hatred and warned that none should ever use the media for such a serious crime, so granting him early release is not acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Meron has granted early release to10 genocide convicts and it is feared the new applicant may also get rewarded with this advantage.
Those include Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo that were sentenced to 30 and 23 years in jail respectively, a sentence that they were serving in Mali.
They also include Alphonse Nteziryayo, former Prefet of Butare during the Genocide.
“It’s really unfortunate. This convict (Ngeze) already has a lenient sentence if you consider the seriousness of his crime,” Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary for Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors’ Associations told KT Press.
At 88 years old, Meron applied for another five year term to lead this UN’s residual mechanism which Rwanda finds too much.
“We appealed to the UN to take decisions against his behavior,” Bizimana said.
“Also, our stand is that he should not be given another term because he is aging and taking bad decisions.”
Besides Ngeze, other applications for early release pending approval include an application by Col. Simba Aloys and Dominique Ntawukuriryayo who are serving 25 and 20 years respectively.