Suspected Rwandan key financier and mastermind of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Félicien Kabuga, will go on trial on Thursday this week, at The Hague, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has confirmed.
“Opening statements in the Prosecutor v. Félicien Kabuga case are scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday, 29 and 30 September 2022 at 10:00 CEST/11:00 EAT in the IRMCT Courtroom in The Hague,” the UN Court said today on twitter.
IRMCT also said that the Trial Chamber is scheduled to continue the case the following week, when it will commence hearing the presentation of evidence on Wednesday, 5 October 2022 at 10:00 CEST/11:00 EAT.
The above trial was supposed to happen last month August 18, 2022 at 10:00 CEST / 11:00 EAT (Rwanda Time) but was postponed following Kabuga’s submissions on inability to stand trial.
This time around the cases comes with some changes in judges. The Trial Chamber in this case is now composed of Judge Iain Bonomy, Presiding, Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya, Judge Mustapha El Baaj, and Judge Margaret deGuzman, as a Reserve Judge.
This follows an announcement by the Chamber President, Judge Graciela Gatti Santana who appointed new judge- Judge Mustapha El Baa to replace her on the bench and subsequently appointing Judge Margaret deGuzman to serve as the Reserve Judge in this case.
On October 1, 2020, President Carmel Agius assigned this case to a Trial Chamber composed of Judge Iain Bonomy, Presiding, Judge Graciela Susana Gatti Santana, and Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya.
Who is Kabuga?
Kabuga, a founder and President of the Comité d’Initiative of Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) radio, operated it with others in a manner that furthered hatred and violence against Tutsi and others and that he and others agreed to disseminate an anti-Tutsi message with the goal to eliminate the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda.
Kabuga is further charged with aiding and abetting Interahamwe who killed and harmed Tutsi and others in Kigali, Gisenyi, and Kibuye prefectures by having provided material, logistical, financial, and moral support to them.
For instance, the Indictment alleges that Kabuga supported a core group of Interahamwe in Kimironko, Kigali, known as “Kabuga’s Interahamwe” in numerous ways and that this group participated in attacks, killing and harming of Tutsi and others in Kigali-Ville préfecture at roadblocks, places of refuge, and houses.
Kabuga is further alleged to have raised funds to purchase weapons and ammunition and to have played a role in importing arms and ammunition which were distributed to Interahamwe in Gisenyi préfecture.
The Indictment alleges that these supplies were used for committing crimes in Gisenyi and Kibuye préfectures, and in and around Kigali-Ville préfecture. Key incidents in the case On 30 September 2020, the French Cour de Cassation rejected Kabuga’s appeal against the lower court’s decision authorizing his transfer to the custody of the Mechanism.
On 1 October 2020, President Carmel Agius assigned this case to a Trial Chamber composed of Judge Iain Bonomy, Presiding, Judge Graciela Susana Gatti Santana, and Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya, effective upon the transfer of Kabuga to the seat of the relevant branch of the Mechanism. On 21 October 2020, Judge Iain Bonomy amended the warrant of arrest and order for transfer, and ordered that Kabuga be transferred to the Hague Branch of the Mechanism.
Kabuga was transferred to the Mechanism’s custody on 26 October 2020. Kabuga’s initial appearance took place on 11 November 2020, during which a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf with respect to the charges in the indictment.