The alleged “financier” of the 1994 Rwandan genocide Félicien Kabuga will appear this Wednesday for the first time before a UN court in The Hague after being arrested in France.
He was arrested in May near Paris, after 25 years on the run. He is 84 years old according to the arrest warrant and 87 according to him.
He is accused of having participated in the creation of the Interahamwe Hutu militias, the main armed forces of the 1994 genocide that caused 800,000 deaths according to the UN, mainly among the Tutsi minority.
He had to be transferred to Arusha to be tried by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MTPI), which has a division in Tanzania and another in the Netherlands, but was sent to The Hague to await a medical examination.
Kabuga’s first appearance before the MTPI, the structure in charge of completing the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will be held at 2:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. GMT) in The Hague.
Kabuga can attend the hearing in person or by videoconference from the detention center, the MTPI reported.
A first medical report recommends that it be done by videoconference due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
The report also indicates that “various aspects of Kabuga’s health require further examination,” the MTPI states.
He is accused of “genocide”, “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” and “crimes against humanity (persecution and extermination)”.
The former president of the Free Radio Television of the Thousand Hills (RTLM), which called for the assassination of Tutsis, denies the charges.
He is also suspected of having contributed in 1993 to the massive purchase of machetes that were distributed to militiamen in April 1994. This accusation supports the thesis, never validated by international justice, that the genocide was planned.
– “Fragile health” –
Kabuga’s lawyers requested in October his permanent transfer to The Hague and not to Arusha, “due to his age, his fragile health and the presence of the Covid-19 epidemic in Tanzania.”
The MTPI prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, partially supported the defense’s request, considering that Kabuga had to be transferred “previously” to The Hague to undergo an “independent medical examination”.
At the end of September a French court validated Kabuga’s delivery to international justice.
Félicien Kabuga, who was among the world’s most wanted fugitives, was arrested in May in a town in the suburbs of Paris where he was residing under a false identity.
In July 1994 he took refuge in Switzerland before being expelled, and then temporarily moved to Kinshasa. In 1997 he was located in Nairobi, but managed to escape an operation designed to arrest him, and another in 2003, according to the specialized NGO TRIAL.
According to the French authorities, he also lived in Germany and Belgium. The United States had offered a reward of five million dollars for his capture.
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