Félicien Kabuga, a key suspect accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, is likely to be transferred to the UN tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania before the end of the year, a top official with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has said.
Serge Brammertz, the IRMCT chief prosecutor, was Tuesday addressing journalists in the Rwandan capital of Kigali during an official visit.
Kabuga, who was until his arrest outside the French capital of Paris earlier this year one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, was apprehended following an international investigative effort involving French authorities, the IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor, and several other countries.
He had been indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (a predecessor to IRMCT) in 1997 on seven counts; genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination.
His indictment was amended in 2011.
Brammertz said a French court was expected to decide on when the elderly suspect can be transferred to IRMCT’s seat in Arusha.
IRMCT updating Kabuga case file
“We have to wait for Kabuga to be transferred and this will take some time; it could be in September or October. Once he is in the custody of the Mechanism, of course, we (will) move to the next phase of our work,” he said.
Brammertz said that, to facilitate the UN tribunal’s readiness to handle Kabuga’s case, he had increased the number of prosecutors and investigators looking into his file – in Rwanda – to more than 15.
He noted that the team is already in Rwanda and will in the next few months gather evidence to update Kabuga’s indictment.
“We will go back to victims’ organisations, witnesses and (individual) victims who testified, to look at their availability and (to see how they can work) with the Prosecutor General’s Office to come up with additional evidence to update the case file as soon as possible,” he said.
Fugitives’ ‘days numbered’
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye warned that Kabuga’s arrest serves as a reminder to all the fugitives of the Genocide against the Tutsi and that their days are numbered.
“Those who are fugitives should know that we are working with many countries and international justice organisations to track them down and that no stone will be left unturned to bring them to justice,” he said.
Who is Kabuga?
Kabuga, referred to as the Financier of the Genocide, was a wealthy businessman with close ties to the politicians who planned the Genocide.
He was a founding and majority shareholder of the infamous hate radio station RTLM that incited killings.
Kabuga, 85, had been on the run since August 18, 1994 when the Swiss security services let him slip from their grasp.
As the Genocide progressed, Kabuga was reportedly given a visa to enter Switzerland only to be later expelled.
After he was expelled from Switzerland in 1994, he went on to spend some time in DR Congo (then Zaire) before moving to Kenya. While there, he is believed to have escaped arrest on several times.
In one incident in 1998, an ICTR team raided a Nairobi house where he was believed to be staying only to find a note indicating that the fugitive had escaped on a police tip-off.
Besides being part of the ideologues that established RTLM, prosecutors say Kabuga helped train and equip the Interahamwe militia, and that there is evidence he used his companies to import vast quantities of machetes from China – which were subsequently used during the killings.Follow https://twitter.com/Africannash