The case of Félicien Kabuga, a suspected financier of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is set to take place on Thursday, February 3, 2020; at 14:30 CET (16:30 EAT) the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT) has said.
Kabuga was, after decades of hiding, arrested 16 May 2020 in Paris, France, as the result of a joint investigation with the Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor.
Kabuga, now 89 years old, was supposed to be sent for trial at the residual UN international Criminal court in Arusha, Tanzania but battled it out for his case to be later transferred to The Hague, where he has, since October 2020, been detained.
Rwanda government had earlier on protested delays in commencing Kabuga’s trial as the suspect as contended not being fit for trial on grounds of his health conditions and age.
On 30 September 2020, the French Cour de Cassation rejected Kabuga’s appeal against the lower court’s decision authorising 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.
Pursuant to the trial chamber’s decision on prosecution motion to amend the indictment, issued on 24 February 2021, the Prosecution filed its Second amended indictment on 1 March 2021 (“Indictment”).
The Hague trial chamber and prosecution will be awaiting for Kabuga’s decision whether to appear in the trial in-person or through a video conference session, a debate which the court has had to handle in the light of this case proceeding.
Kabuga’s Charges on Table
Kabuga is charged with genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and persecution on political grounds, extermination, and murder as crimes against humanity, committed in Rwanda in 1994.
According to the Indictment, 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.