A French court yesterday turned down Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga’s request to be released on bail pending a decision on where he will be tried after a quarter century on the run.
Described as Africa’s most wanted man, Kabuga stands accused of financing the 1994 genocide and was arrested at his home outside Paris on May 16.
He had been living in France under the alias Antoine Tounga.
The court yesterday turned down his freedom bid after prosecutors highlighted a high risk of the octogenarian fleeing again.
“I am asking to be freed because I am very ill,” Kabuga, who officials say is 84 but proclaims to be 87, told the court from a wheelchair.
“He is incapable of independently executing any action required for daily life,” added Kabuga’s lawyer Laurent Bayon, pleading with the court to show “humanity”.
Kabuga - once one of Rwanda’s richest men - is accused of creating the notorious Interahamwe militia that carried out massacres, and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines which, in its broadcasts, incited people to murder.
He is alleged to have used his wealth and influence to funnel money to militia groups as chairman of the Fonds de
Defence Nationale (FDN) fund.
About 800,000 people - Tutsis but also moderate Hutus - were slaughtered over 100 days of ethnic violence committed by Hutu extremists in 1994.
Kabuga was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 on seven counts, including genocide.
The tribunal, headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania, formally closed in 2015 and its duties were transferred to the Mechanism for International
Criminal Tribunals (MICT).
Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor for the MICT, has said that Kabuga is expected to be tried in Arusha if extradited.
It is possible he would first be transferred to the MICT’s other branch in The Hague in the Netherlands due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kabuga insists he wants to be tried in France, and his lawyers have indicated they would challenge any attempt to extradite him.
The Paris court is set to rule on June 3 whether to hand Kabuga over to the MICT.
Also sought over the genocide, Rwanda’s former defence minister Augustin Bizimana and top-ranking military figure Protais Mpiranya remain at large.
French-Rwandan former hotel driver Claude Muhayimana is set to go on trial in Paris in February next year. He stands accused of transporting Hutu militiamen to sites where massacres were
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