Rwanda's Most Wanted Genocide Fugitive Arrested in France

Pictures of Felicen Kabuga on the U.S. State Department's website about fugitives from justice.

Rwanda genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga was on Saturday arrested in Paris region, the French justice ministry and the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals announced.

Kabuga, 84, has been living under a false identity in a flat in Asnieres-Sur-Seine, near Paris. He had evaded justice for 25 years as Rwanda relentlessly pursued his arrest, listing him among the biggest suspects.

"The arrest of Felicien Kabuga today is a reminder that those responsible for genocide can be brought to account, even 26 years after their crimes," said Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of The Hague-based Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT).

"Our first thoughts must be with the victims and survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Advocating on their behalf is an immense professional honour for my entire office."

Kabuga was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 on seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination, all in relation to crimes committed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Rwandan prosecutors say Kabuga was the chief financier during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The 100-day pogrom left at least a million Rwandans, the majority of them minority Tutsi ethnic group, dead.

Prosecutors in the central African country say Kabuga held the purse-strings of hate media Kangura newspaper and RTLM radio, which incited ethnic Hutus to murder Tutsi.

The operation to arrest Kabuga was run by French authorities in conjunction with the IRMCT. It involved "a sophisticated, coordinated operation with simultaneous searches across a number of locations," the French justice ministry said.

The body exists to complete the remaining work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The French Justice Ministry said gendarmes arrested him at 0530 GMT (8930am) on Saturday.

Patched ties

Rwanda government has for long accused the French government of complicity in the Genocide and of frustrating justice for the victims since many of the suspects fled to the European country when the government of Juvenal Habyarimana fell.

France has admitted it made mistakes but insists it never had a role in the massacre.

However, the current government of Emmanuel Macron has appeared more forthcoming with Kigali after several meeting with President Paul Kagame.

In May 2018, Macron hosted Kagame and then openly backed Rwanda's Louise Mushikiwabo for to head the world association of French-speaking nations. T

"The Rwandan foreign minister has every competence to carry out this role," Macron said. "I will support her."

Mushiwabo won the seat, Rwandan fugitives lost their haven.

It is not yet clear if Kabuga will be extradited to Rwanda to face justice but Brammertz suggested that following completion of appropriate procedures under French law, the suspect will be transferred to the custody of the Mechanism, where he will stand trial.

N.B: This is a developing story

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