Top Rwandan Genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga recently arrested in France is set to appear in a Paris Court this Tuesday, according to French lawyer Emmanuel Altit who is said to be representing him.
The 84-year old, one of the main financiers of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, will be arraigned in court for the first time since his arrest on Saturday in a suburb in northern part of the French capital Paris, ending a 26-year manhunt.
According to Reuters, Altit, who previously represented former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, said Kabuga will be presented in court for the initial plea hearing.
“The court will set out the legal process before passing the case to investigative judges within eight days,” Reuters reported Monday.
If Kabuga appeals against the court’s decision, the matter will be pushed to France’s Court of Cassation, which hears whether rulings conform with the law.
The Tuesday session will see Judges make a decision on whether Kabuga will be handed to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals or tried in France. Rwanda maintains he should be sent to his native to face trial.
Altit confirmed to Reuters that he will be part of the defense team. The senior lawyer was on the team which successfully secured Gbagbo’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in January 2019.
The U.S Government, which had put a $5m prize money for whoever gave leads to the whereabouts of Kabuga, on Monday welcomed the arrest in France.
“We applaud the Government of France and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, who is charged with playing a key role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda,”
“We commend law enforcement officials worldwide who contributed to the arrest. This is a milestone for international justice, and a message to all fugitives indicted for genocide that they will be brought to justice. We hope this arrest brings the victims and their families some peace,” a Statement from the US State Department reads.
The U.S said it remains committed to seeking justice for the many men, women, and children who were killed.
“Through the War Crimes Reward Program, we offer up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest of the remaining seven Rwandans wanted for genocide by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals,” it added.
It is not yet clear if the prize money will be handed over to the organs in Britain, Belgium and France which worked together to trace the whereabouts of Kabuga and lead to his arrest.
The Octogenarian was arrested on Saturday, with reports indicating that he did not put up any resistance when a squad of 16 elite officers, forced their way through the door of his apartment in the plush part of Paris.
The 84-year-old fugitive was living in a third-floor flat on the Rue du Reverend Pere Christian Gilbert in Asnieres-sur-Seine, a well-off neighbourhood. Reports indicate that intelligence organs followed signals of his children’s phones to access his location.
He was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) in August 1998 and an international arrest warrant was issued in August 1999.
According to the act of indictment dated 21 November 2001, Kabuga is charged on 11 counts. He is accused of «genocide», «conspiracy to commit genocide», «complicity in genocide», and «direct and public incitation to commit genocide». Also, he is accused of «assassination as a crime against humanity», «extermination as a crime against humanity», «rape as a crime against humanity», «persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds as crimes against humanity» in addition to various war crimes.