Rwanda: Félicien Kabuga referred to international justice

Since 1997 he has been one of the most wanted fugitives on the planet. Félicien Kabuga, a former prosperous Rwandan businessman, was arrested in Asnières-sur-Seine, in the Paris region, on May 16, after more than twenty years on the run. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) accuses him of the heaviest responsibilities within the Rwandan tragedy in his capacity as chairman of the initiative committee of the Free Radio of the Thousand Hills (RTLM) since April 1993, chairman of the National Defense Fund created in April 1994, having been used for the creation of the Hutu Interahamwe militias, the main armed forces of the 1994 genocide which, according to the UN, caused 800,000 deaths, mainly within the Tutsi minority. To summarize: Félicien Kabuga is accused of having been one of the great funders of the genocide in Rwanda.

He is also suspected of having contributed in 1993 to the massive purchase of machetes which will be distributed to militiamen in April 1994, an accusation which supports the thesis of a planning of the genocide, never decided by international justice to the chagrin of Kigali. .

This Wednesday, September 30, the tide has just turned for the man now aged 87. The Court of Cassation rejected his appeal, thus definitively validating his surrender to international justice.

Read also Rwanda: the challenges of the trial of Félicien Kabuga

Last resort

The highest court of the judicial order confirmed the decision rendered in June by the Paris Court of Appeal which “could validly consider that there was no legal or medical obstacle to the execution of the warrant. arrest ”aimed at transferring Félicien Kabuga to Arusha (Tanzania), seat of the UN tribunal which is to try him for genocide and crimes against humanity, she explained in a statement.

It also rejected a priority question of constitutionality (QPC) which argued that the French law was “unconstitutional since it does not provide that the investigating chamber seized of a request for arrest for the purposes of surrender formed by the International Mechanism monitors respect for the fundamental rights of the requested person ”. The former president of the infamous Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which broadcast calls for the murders of Tutsis, disputes all of the seven charges against him.

Read also Éric Emeraux, the colonel who tracked war criminals

Before the Court of Cassation, on September 2, his lawyer, Mr.e Louis Boré, first raised a priority question of constitutionality, arguing that the applicable French law “excessively” limited the prerogatives of the judge with regard to the fundamental rights of the suspect, claimed by international justice, which would violate the Constitution .

This law only requires justice to ensure the validity of arrest warrants and to verify the identity of the arrested person before handing him over to the MTPI, without considering the conditions of his transfer and his detention. The lawyer then invoked the state of health of Félicien Kabuga.

He pointed out that his client, who is said to be suffering from diabetes and hypertension, also had leucoaraiosis, an incurable condition causing him to gradually lose his motor and cognitive functions. This condition, he pleaded, does not allow him to be “transferred in satisfactory sanitary conditions” to Arusha, where he must in principle appear.

The state of health argument

In its judgment of June 3, the Paris Court of Appeal relied on a medical certificate drawn up by the prison doctor who certified that Félicien Kabuga had to be transported “by ambulance during extractions” but which did not establish, according to the court, of incompatibility of his state of health with the detention nor of contraindication on a transfer.

According to Me Boré, “at no time did the doctor question the transfer between Paris and Arusha,” AFP reports.

A few days before the decision of the Court of Cassation, Félicien Kabuga was extracted at the end of last week from his prison for “medical reasons”, corroborating sources told AFP.

“We are confident,” MTPI prosecutor Serge Brammertz told AFP, when he was in Kigali on September 3. He recalled that as it stood the MTPI was the only jurisdiction competent to try the fugitive, while Rwandan victims expressed the wish to see him tried in Rwanda, “unless the Security Council (of the UN ) decides otherwise ”.

France now has one month to hand over Félicien Kabuga to the Mechanism for International Tribunals (MTPI), the structure responsible for completing the work of the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Read also Investigation opened in France for “crimes against humanity” against a former senior Rwandan official

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