Rwanda 1994 Genocide: Suspect Felicien Kabuga Detained in France and Sought by UN Tribunal

Written by | Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Following the recent arrest of the Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga in a Paris suburb on Saturday (16 May), investigators have requested his extradition for his alleged role in financing the country’s 1994 genocide. Prosecutors on Wednesday (20 May) filed a request for Felicien Kabuga to be transferred to United Nations custody for trial in international courts. Police tracked him down through his children in his apartment near Paris where he has been living under a false name during a quarter-of-a-century while on the run. Kabuga could be transferred to The Hague in the Netherlands before a trial before a UN court in the city of Arusha in northern Tanzania, which is handling cases that date back to the 1994 genocide of an estimated 800,000 people.
The former coffee and tea tycoon is Rwanda’s most wanted man and had a $5 million bounty on his head. He was indicted in 1997 on seven criminal counts including genocide and incitement to commit genocide. Kabuga is accused of bankrolling and arming the ethnic Hutu militias that waged the 100-day killing spree against Rwanda’s Tutsis and moderate Hutus. According to Rwandan prosecutors, he used his companies to import machetes and gardening tools even though he was well aware that these would be used as weapons in 100-day killing spree that killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus in the East African country. He is also believed to have established the notorious Interahamwe Hutu ethnic militia and provided training and equipment used in the massacres. Kabuga also co-owned Radio Television Milles Collines, whose radio station broadcast messages that fanned the ethnic hatred against the Tutsis.
French intelligence agents spied on Kabuga’s children in their effort to track him down. Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, many active investigations were placed on hold, and French police were able to focus on Kabuga’s file. Kabuga – who had 28 known aliases – was arrested by a squad of 16 elite officers and was formally identified in a DNA test, matching against a sample taken when he was hospitalized in Germany in 2007. His lawyers said in a statement before the hearing that Kabuga had the right to be presumed innocent, he opposed being transferred from France to a UN tribunal that handles crimes against humanity based in Tanzania and wished to be tried in France. Kabuga’s arrest marked the end of a more than 20 years long hunt that spanned Europe and Africa.

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