KIGALI - The trial of Genocide suspect Ephraim Nkezabera, nicknamed the “Banker to the Genocide”, yesterday began in Belgium but in his absence as a result of an alleged terminal illness.
Nkezabera, a former Director of the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR), is facing charges related to financing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and his trial began in Assize Court of Brussels after a long delay.
He is reported to be suffering from liver cancer which is in its advanced stages.
Reports from Brussels indicate that Court President Karin Gerard decided to continue the trial by default because the accused suffers from a cancer that “has become widespread and affects the bones and other organs,” but the decision did not go down well with prosecutors who see it as a way of Nkezabera eluding justice.
The prosecuting team that was made up of Nathalie Michele Hirsch, Olivier Slusny and Frederic Clement Cléty, maintained that the accused was ‘a master manipulator’ who is now using his cancer to escape trial.
Nkezabera was arrested in 2004 after a decade in hiding.
The 57-year old is 67th position on the list of masterminds of the Genocide against Tutsi that left over a million dead.
As a banker, he is said to have been in charge of financing the militia and furnishing them with arms. He initially fled to the Congo, before going to the Netherlands.
He was arrested on June 21 2004 by the Belgian authorities while hiding at the home of one of his sons in Brussels.
Upon his arrest Nkezabera confessed during the investigation that he had funded and armed the Interahamwe militias and also funded the extremist media house Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM).
His trial is the fourth related to the Genocide to be held in Belgium.
The court conducts the trials under the universal jurisdiction principle which empowers Belgian courts to try alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
When contacted, John Bosco Mutangana, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit in the office of the prosecutor general sounded upbeat.
“For us as Rwanda we have done our part. We facilitated Belgian officials who were here on an information gathering mission by availing key witnesses. We welcome the prosecution whether it is by default or not.”
“We have no objection because the court is entitled to its independent decision, but what is important here is to see justice delivered,” said Mutangana.