ARUSHA - Efforts to apprehend Félicien Kabuga are yet to bear fruits years after he was indicted. But that will not deter witnesses from recording evidence against the top suspect of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
“The Arusha-based UN tribunal, this week, commenced special deposition proceedings in the case of Kabuga in order to preserve the evidence against him.
The closed door proceedings are taking place before presiding Judge Vagn Joensen,” a court statement revealed.
Kabuga, 76, who faces 11 counts, including conspiracy to commit Genocide, Genocide, Complicity in Genocide, Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.
He is believed to have bankrolled the Genocide, in which over one million people were killed.
“The court’s decision is based on Rule 71 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which gives the court the powers to receive evidence from prosecution witnesses in the event that a suspect has eluded capture for a long time,” said Innocent Kamanzi, the Associate Information Officer at the ICTR Liaison office in Kigali.
The same proceedings were also initiated in the cases of former Defence Minister, Augustin Bizimana, and Major Protais Mpiranya, former Commander of the Presidential Guard.
As a result, many Rwandans welcomed the move, describing it as a big step towards bringing suspects to justice.
Cladius Karahamuheto, the coordinator of the Genocide survivor students association (AERG) at the Kigali Independent University (ULK), said: “It adds momentum to efforts to arrest him.
He will now be hunted down all over the world, more as a criminal rather than a mere suspect”.
Lenny Mugisha, a lecturer at the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) commented that the latest development sends out a warning to criminals that they will eventually face justice for their excesses, no matter how long they hide.
“Everyone will learn that hiding from justice is not a sustainable cause,” he said.
Caleb Gumusabe, president of Never Again Association at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), reckons that the proceedings will preserve evidence against the three top suspects.
A local leader in Remera sector, Placide Nzisabira, hailed the ICTR for the initiative and dismissed concerns that wrong evidence may be included, though Carine Uzamukunda, a hotel receptionist in Kigali, said she believes Kabuga could still draw on his wealth to evade justice.