Rwanda’s minister of Justice and State Attorney has said that the arrest of Rwanda’s most wanted genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga in France is another level of commitment to justice and a game changer towards arresting more fugitives.
Minister Johnston Busingye’s remarks follow the historical arrest of Kabuga on Saturday in France after 26 years of evading justice on crimes committed during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
“That he (Kabuga) has been arrested in France and the French law enforcement institutions cooperated maximum in his arrest, that to me signifies another higher level of relationship and also a commitment to justice,” Busingye said Saturday during an interview on the national broadcaster.
Kabuga, 84 years, is now expected to face seven counts of committing genocide as a financier, planner and mastermind behind purchase of weapons that were used to kill over one million Tutsi in the genocide period of three months from April 7th to July 3rd in 1994.
Kabuga’s arrest has triggered a call by genocide survivors for his extradition to face justice in Rwanda, however according to national prosecution office the standing arrest warrant and genocide crimes tribunal procedures, Kabuga will be sent for trial at the Arusha Tanzania based Rwanda residual tribunal mechanism which replaced the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR).
Prosecution spokesman Faustin Nkusi says that now it is up to the tribunal and the French justice system to either choose to extradite Kabuga or try him.
“This can happen and has been done before. We have had three cases sent and tried in Rwanda for instance, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Bernard Munyagishari, Jean Uwankindi and they have had their day in court,” Nkusi said.
However, going forward Busingye said that with this momentum Rwanda could see more fugitives out of the over 1000 indictments submitted globally being brought to justice in the near future.
“I want to think that this is a new message, a new wake-up call to the world for those genocide suspects hiding anywhere and someone knows or is hiding them, I think this is the time 26 years later, to deal with this as a matter of justice, to bring these people to justice” Busingye said.
Felicien Kabuga was top on the list of the most wanted genocide fugitives, with an arrest bounty of $5million on his head offered by the US government backed War Crimes Rewards Program.
Kabuga becomes the 6th person to be arrested under this program. Others previously nabbed include Augustin Bizimungu,Yusuf John Munyakazi, Tharcisse Renzah, Idelphonse Hategekimana and Jean-Baptiste Gatete.
Now that Kabuga is off the most wanted list, those who shared the same $5million arrest reward status and indictment but still at large include:
Protais Mpiranya (whereabouts not known but suspected to be in DRC or Zimbabwe), Augustin Bizimana (suspected to be in DRC), Fulgence Kayishema (thought to be in South Africa), Pheneas Munyarugarama , Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Sikubwabo, Charles Ryandikayo (whereabouts are not known).