Rwanda woman: I incited killings

Jean Baptiste Kayigamba
Tuesday 22 June 1999 23:02 BST

A RWANDAN woman journalist has confessed to broadcasting hate messages by radio to incite killings during the 1994 genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people died.

Valerie Bemeriki was arrested last week and is to be charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for her role in the massacres.

"I acknowledge my role in the genocide and I'm ready to kneel down and beg forgiveness from the Rwandan people." she said at the state prosecutor's office in Kigali on Monday.

Hutu extremists, sponsored by Rwanda's government at the time, organised the genocide in a bid to exterminate the country's ethnic Tutsi minority and their Hutu political opponents.

Working for the notorious Radio Milles Collines in 1994, Bemeriki broadcast names of Tutsis to kill and disclosed their hiding places to listeners.

Local residents recall hearing her saying repeatedly: "Do not kill those inyenzi (cockroaches) with a bullet - cut them to pieces with a machete."

"What I did at that time was because of the pressure of my bosses and the regime in place." Bemeriki said on Monday.

But enraged onlookers told her to "go hang" and called her a "killer" and a "genocidaire".

Bemeriki is on Rwanda's list of 1,000 most-wanted people. Rwandan soldiers arrested her last week inside the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are fighting with Congolese rebels to overthrow President Laurent Kabila, who seized power in 1997.

If charged and convicted under category one of Rwanda's genocide law she could face the death penalty, although under that law, suspects who confess may receive reduced sentences.

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