Trial of financier of Rwandan genocide starts at the end of September

Trial of financier of Rwandan genocide starts at the end of September
Credit: Belga

The trial of Rwandan Félicien Kabuga, one of the suspected financiers of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, will begin in late September in The Hague.

Kabuga will be required to answer charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Iain Bonomy, a judge at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), said on Thursday.

The IRMCT wraps up the work of other UN judicial institutions such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is headquartered in the Hague and Arusha, Tanzania.

After an opening session on 29 September, the trial will start in earnest on 5 October with the first statements by witnesses. Kabuga’s lawyers had tried to avoid a lawsuit by invoking his ill health, but in mid-June the court ruled that the businessman was still able to stand trial. He is, however, being medically monitored.

The court also emphasised that the trial can take place as quickly as possible, “which means it must be conducted in the Hague.” The other location of the ICTR, in Arusha, does not have the necessary medical facilities to monitor the defendant.

Kabuga was caught in a Paris suburb in May 2020 after more than 20 years on the run. He is said to have been involved in the establishment of the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia that played a key role in the 1994 genocide.

According to UN figures, 800,000 people died in the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda, mainly members of the Tutsi minority.

At the time of the genocide, Kabuga was one of the richest men in Rwanda. He also chaired Radio Télévision Libre des Mille collines (RTLM), the radio station that called on the Hutu majority to attack and kill their Tutsi compatriots.

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