Félicien Kabuga Trial: Witness Tell Court How He Refused to Uphold Media Ethics

Kabuga trial continued in The Hague on Wednesday with him in the proceedings.

One of the prosecution witness has told a United Nations court that genocide suspect Kabuga Félicien, used his Radio- Comité d’Initiative de la Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) to encourage Hutus to kill Tutsis, and he was warned many times but he persisted with the plan.

The witness (KAB005), the first of the 50 witnesses in the case, was represented by prosecution during a witness hearing before the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT), this October 5, 2022 at The Hague.

Kabuga is accused of crimes of genocide and financing its activities, including 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.

In an earlier hearing last month, Kabuga’s defense stated that their client had no interests in propagation genocide and the RTLM was an investment like any other in Rwanda and co-owned by many citizens.

Kabuga’s defense denied the 1994 genocide Tutsi and showed that what happened in Rwanda was a war and massacres were part of the self-defense from the refugees (RPA army) that had attacked Rwanda.

In accordance to the UN court rules, the witness names and any identifying aspects like voices and location were concealed but their witness presented as valid information for the court to base on in its decision on the case.

KAB005 said that in 1994 he worked at the Ministry of Information, which was responsible for the control of newspapers and radio stations.

Having been at the ministry, the witness said Kabuga was the ‘president’ of RTLM and he had the direct responsibility to control programs aired on the radio back then.

“I am talking about is Mr. Kabuga Felicien, because he was the president of RTLM,” Witness said when as who they referred to.

KAB005 said that RTLM sent many messages saying that Hutus should be alert, because what happened in Burundi, Hutus in Rwanda could also happen to them, especially after President Ndadaye, a Hutu, had been assassinated and the act suspected to been done by the Tutsis in Burundi.

The witness said that it got to the point where RTLM said that all Hutus in the region should unite and be vigilant, that there are those who want to establish “Tutsiland” in the region.

The prosecution obtained the letter Faustin Rucogoza, who was the Minister of Information, wrote to the committee that founded RTLM, accusing it of covering up the death of Ndadaye and encouraging people to spread messages of hate and crime. This Rucogoza was killed on April 7, 1994, the beginning of the genocide.

The witness was asked if there was anything in the letter.

KAB005 said, “Actually, nothing changed after that letter, it continued to get worse. The propaganda of hate, of division, really continued to the point that some Tutsi people have been subjected to it all over the country. country.”

“We can say that in Bugesera area, in Bigogwe which is in Gisenyi prefecture, the conflict between ethnic groups increased. In short, RTLM has not prevented anything but instead it intensified its propaganda aimed at dividing ethnic groups.”

The witness also revealed that leaders of RTLM didn’t follow up on crimes committed using their media, even when journalists say bad things on air, they faced no consequences.

On the songs of Bikindi Simon that were used on RTLM radio, including Mbwirabumva, the witness said that it was a racist message packed song.

RTLM will continue to hear more witnesses through this month before the Kabuga defense team presents its witnesses.




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