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UN Tribunal Drops Kabuga Trial

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
10:01 am

Felicien-Kabuga in court hearing

A new and probably greatest deception will be registered among the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, following the latest decision of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals(IRMCT).

“The Trial Chamber, Judge El Baaj dissenting, finds that Mr. Kabuga is not fit for trial and is very unlikely to.regain fitness in the future,” writes IRMCT on June 7.

Narrating the background of the issue, IRMCT from The Hague it was ruled that Genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga who is alleged to be the financier in Chief of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi which cost more than one million Tutsi said that forensic psychiatrists, Professors Henry Kennedy and Gillian Mezey conducted extensive assessments of Kabuga’s mental health.”

“Professors Kennedy and Mezey agreed that Mr. Kabuga was frail and suffered from numerous, significant physical illnesses and had vascular damage to his brain,” reads the document.

The experts allege that Kabuga lacks four capacities crucial to meaningful participation in a trial: the ability to understand the course of proceedings, understand the evidence, instruct counsel, and testify.!” According to the Experts, Mr. Kabuga’s dementia has caused cognitive decline producing deficits in his short-term memory, attention and concentration skills, reasoning and judgment abilities, and executive functioning.V” He experiences episodic confusion and his capacities to engage in expressive and receptive communication are limited.P” His mood fluctuates and he exhibits personality change.l” In the unanimous opinion of the Experts, these consequences of dementia deprive Mr. Kabuga of the capabilities necessary for meaningful participation in a trial.

Kabuga, one of the richest men of Kigali during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi dodged justice for more than 25 years until his arrest in May 2020 in France.

Ever since, the prosecution and the defence worked on the trial of the 88 year old Kabuga, but the man who was able to hide for that long has played the last card and could now die with a presumption of innocence.

“He will not recover these capacities because his condition is characterized by progressive and irreversible decline,” writes IRMCT.

The prosecution however, filed several arguments which showed strong communications between Kabuga and his defence, an indication of his cognitive evidence.

“I am of the view that the Defence has not demonstrated at this stage, by a preponderance of evidence, that Kabuga is unfit to stand trial, and, for the foregoing reasons, I respectfully disagree with the Majority. On the contrary, I am convinced that Kabuga retains a number of capacities which allow him to reach the standard of “overall capacity allowing for a meaningful participation in the trial, provided that he is duly represented by Counsel”, assisted by a language assistant, and benefits from appropriate accommodations, in order to give full effect to his right to a fair trial,” reads a submission of the prosecutor.

However, the court insisted that the trial would not continue, but there would be “an alternative trial”.

“Trial Chamber, Judge El Baaj dissenting, considers that, because Mr. Kabuga is very unlikely to regain fitness, the best way to ensure respect for. his rights and to effectuate the goals of the Mechanism is to adopt an alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction,” IRMCT writes.

The court therefore decided that Kabuga would not need “to participate in these proceedings.

However, the court concluded that among others, “the temporary stay of the hearing of the Prosecution evidence until the expiration of the period for seeking certification to appeal or the resolution of any appeal of this Decision.”

As of the Psychiatrics, they were also required to file the last report being due 180 days from the report filed on
6 March 2023.

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