Lawyers for Rwanda genocide suspect push for French trial - International | NTV

Lawyers for Rwanda genocide suspect push for French trial

By AFP

Tuesday June 2, 2020

A red cross is seen drawn on the face of Felicien Kabuga, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, on a wanted poster at the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit office in Kigali, Rwanda (AFP) 

Lawyers for Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga have called on UN prosecutors to end their international case and allow him to be tried in France where he was arrested.


Described as Africa's most wanted man, Kabuga is accused of financing the 1994 Rwanda genocide and was arrested at his home outside Paris on May 16 after years on the run.


His lawyers have already told a Paris appeals court, which must rule on Wednesday on the validity of the arrest warrant for Kabuga, that he wants to be tried in France.


In the letter, lawyer Laurent Bayon says his 84-year-old client should stay in France because of his age, health and the alleged lack of impartiality of international justice.


A judge in The Hague last month said Kabuga should be tried in a war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, under the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which is based in the Dutch city.


"If you decided to assert your jurisdiction over the French jurisdiction, thus putting Felicien Kabuga's life in danger, we would take the risk of giving up the truth, forever," Bayon wrote in a letter to MICT prosecutors.


The letter calls on MICT prosecutors to excuse themselves from the case and leave it to French justice.


Kabuga -- once one of Rwanda's richest men -- is accused of forming the notorious Interahamwe militia that carried out massacres and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines which, in its broadcasts, incited people to murder.


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 on seven counts, including genocide, by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997.