September 30, 2020

France’s Highest Court Rules Alleged Genocide Financier Felicien Kabuga be Handed to UN Court

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Picture of Felicien Kabuga after he was arrested in a Paris Suburb

A top French appeals court has agreed to extradite the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Félicien Kabuga, to face trial in Tanzania.

Mr Kabuga, 85, was arrested in May at his home outside Paris after 26 years on the run.

Mr Kabuga is alleged to have funnelled money to militia groups as chairman of the national defence fund. He denies all the charges.

During a court appearance in May, he described the accusations as “lies”.

What is he accused of?

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, Mr Kabuga is accused of financing the Rwandan genocide.

He is alleged to have backed and armed ethnic Hutu extremists who slaughtered more than a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

He helped set up the notorious Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a Rwandan broadcaster that actively encouraged people to search out and kill anyone ethnic Tutsis.

In 1997 he was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on seven counts including genocide and crimes against humanity.

How did he evade capture for so long?

French Police say Mr Kabuga used 28 aliases.

While on the run, he is alleged to have stayed in various countries in East Africa, including Kenya, where he and his family had business interests.

The French public prosecutor’s office said he had been living under a false identity with the complicity of his children.

He was finally detained in a dawn raid on 16 May in the Paris suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine.

What is the court in Arusha?

In the months that followed the genocide, the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, northern Tanzania.

It was set up to judge the ringleaders of the genocide and more than 60 people were sentenced.

That court was formally closed in 2015 and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) took over its mission to find the last genocidaires.

It has no police force, nor powers of arrest, instead relying on national governments to act on its behalf.

Who is Félicien Kabuga?

Considered the richest man in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994.

Made his fortune from tea in the 1970s and ventured into many other sectors at home and abroad

Was close to the ruling MRND party – and related by marriage to President Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death triggered the genocide

Accused of being the top sponsor of the genocide plan and using his business and premises to organise and fund the killing

The main owner of the private radio station RTLM that was accused of inciting ethnic Hutus to kill Tutsis

The United States had offered a reward of $5m (£4.1m) for information leading to his arrest.

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