France approves transfer of Rwandan genocide suspect to UN tribunal | Rwanda


France’s highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday that the alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga would be transferred to a United Nations tribunal in Tanzania to stand trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.UN prosecutors accuse former tea and coffee mogul of financing and importing large numbers of machetes for ethnic Hutu fighters who killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and moderate Hutus in Rwanda over a period of time 100 days in 1994.

He was also accused of setting up the Mille Collines radio and television station which broadcast vicious propaganda against the Tutsi ethnic minority, as well as training and equipping an armed group which led the murderous frenzy.

Kabuga was close to former President Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death when his plane was shot down over Kigali sparked the 100-day genocide. Kabuga’s daughter married Habyarimana’s son.

Kabuga’s arrest in Paris in May ended a manhunt that has lasted more than 20 years. He denounced the accusations, including genocide and incitement to commit genocide, as “lies”.

His lawyers said at 87 he was too fragile to be transferred overseas, especially during a dangerous coronavirus pandemic. French courts indicate his age at 84.

Kabuga’s legal team also argued that French law violated the constitution by not allowing for a thorough review of international arrest warrants.

In June, a French court ruled that Kabuga should be tried before the Mechanism of International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in Tanzania, which took over the functions of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) when it officially closed. in 2015.

Kabuga’s lawyers have appealed the ruling, citing what they said was his fragile health and fearing the UN tribunal was biased.

But the Court of Cassation, France’s highest court of appeal for criminal cases, disagreed on Wednesday, which means France will have a month to hand Kabuga over to MICT.

Until his arrest, Kabuga was the most high-profile fugitive still wanted by the UN tribunal.

Seven counts

Lawyer Emmanuel Altit said that after Wednesday’s ruling, the defense team would ask MICT to move Kabuga to The Hague rather than Arusha “because in The Hague his rights will be better protected”.

At the hearing before the Court of Cassation, another Kabuga lawyer, Louis Bore, claimed his client would not receive proper medical treatment in Tanzania for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and leukaraiosis – an incurable disease that erodes physical and cognitive abilities.

Kabuga was indicted by the ICTR in 1997 on seven counts, which he all denies.

Rwanda has said it wants Kabuga to be tried by its own courts.

However, MICT’s transfer of jurisdiction would require a decision from the UN Security Council, according to MICT prosecutor Serge Brammertz and The Hague is also a coronavirus infection hotspot where more restrictions were imposed this week.

Commenting earlier this month for the first time since Kabuga’s detention in May, President Paul Kagame said on national television that the arrest could be seen as those who had sheltered him did not want the fugitive dead. aging on their hands.

Rwanda itself carried out 22 executions of people convicted of their role in the conflict before abolishing the death penalty in 2007, a move that facilitated the extradition of suspects from other countries to its jurisdiction.

Between 2005 and 2012, some 12,000 people’s courts known as “gacaca” tried nearly two million people, convicting two-thirds of them.

European courts, notably in Belgium and France, have also tried and convicted Rwandan genocide suspects.


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