The United Nation International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT) has set August 18, 2022 to have a pre-trial conference in the case of Rwandan genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga.
Kabuga, a former tycoon in Rwanda, 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 during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Since his arrest in May 2020, Kabuga has been awaited to face the above charges but legal proceedings delayed.
Kabuga, 89, through a video link, appeared before the Criminal Tribunals court in February 2022 and told the court that he wanted his lawyer Emmanuel Alti replaced with Peter Robison.
Kabuga explained to the court that the reason for changing his defense lawyer was because the current one- Alti doesn’t provide him nor family with information and documents on his case.
Key dates 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 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.
On October 21, 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 and this took effect on October 26 of the same year.
Kabuga’s initial appearance took place on November11, 2020 during which a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf with respect to the charges in the indictment.
A look into the charges
Kabuga is founder and President of the Comité d’Initiative of Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) radio.
The Radio is blamed to have furthered hatred and violence against Tutsi with the goal to eliminate them.
Kabuga is further charged with aiding and abetting Interahamwe who massacred the Tutsi in Kigali, Gisenyi, and Kibuye prefectures.
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.