RWANDA: Radio host detained for 10 days, charged over 1994 genocide story

MAY 11, 2007
Posted June 19, 2007

John Williams Ntwali, City Radio

Ntwali, the host of a cultural Kinyarwanda-language bi-weekly program on private City Radio, was arrested on the orders of station’s program director, Alex Rutareka, and later charged with promoting “genocidal ideology” in connection with the broadcast of a Hutu Christian priest’s account of the 1994 genocide, according to local journalists.

Ntwali’s arrest came nearly two weeks after his resignation from the station in protest of a suspension handed out by Rutareka in connection with an April 15 program during Genocide Remembrance Week, according to the same sources. Rutareka had accused the journalist of “promoting a second [Paul] Rusesabagina” over the priest’s allegations of saving 104 people during the genocide, he said. Rusesabagina, a Hutu hotel manager portrayed in the acclaimed film “Hotel Rwanda,” is an outspoken critic of the Tutsi-dominated regime of President Paul Kagamé. The interview had already aired on private Radio Voice of Hope five days earlier, local journalists told CPJ.

Ntwali was jailed in a police station in the capital, Kigali, but was not given a reason for his arrest until 19 hours into his detention, he later told CPJ. He was accused of “trespassing” after he had returned to the station to allegedly recover personal belongings, he said, but the state prosecutor later charged the journalist with promoting “genocidal ideology” in connection with the program, according to defense lawyer Pasteur Isaacar Munyandamutsa.

Ntwali was provisionally released and ordered to report to the state prosecutor every Friday, Munyandamutsa said. A date for the trial had not yet been set.