Rwanda: Genocide - French Court Upholds Decision to Send Kabuga to Stand Trial in Arusha

30 September 2020

The French Cour de Cassation on Wednesday, September 29, ruled that suspected genocide mastermind Félicien Kabuga be transferred, from France to the custody of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT), in Arusha, Tanzania, for trial.

This is the third, and final decision on the transfer of Kabuga, who was arrested in the French capital Paris in May, putting a dramatic end to a 25 year search for the man believed to have funded the Genocide.

First victory

"Final decision. He is going to Arusha," Etienne Nsanzimana, the president of Ibuka-France told The New Times.

Ibuka is the umbrella body bringing together Genocide survivors' organisations.

Nsanzimana added: "This is a first victory. Now it's time for international justice to try him and put an end to all these years of shameful impunity."

According to Richard Gisagara, a Rwandan lawyer based in France who has closely followed the case, Kabuga has exhausted all his options and he is supposed to be transferred to the UN Tribunal.

However, Gisagara noted, Kabuga can still seize the European Court of Human Rights but this appeal would not halt the process just initiated by the ruling in the French court.

Whatever happens now onwards, Kabuga who opposed his extradition - and wanted to be tried only in France - has now exhausted the process on extradition in French courts.

In June, after rejecting all of Kabuga's pleas the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that he be handed over to the Mechanism. That is when he appeal to another court, the Cour de Cassation.

Towards the end of May, William Sekule, the duty judge at the Arusha branch of the Mechanism ruled that Kabuga will be transferred to Arusha, once conditions - the Covid-19 travel restrictions at the time - allow.

At the time, the Mechanism's prosecutor had filed an urgent motion seeking the temporary transfer of Kabuga to The Hague citing the ongoing Covid-19 crisis which has temporarily halted air travel.

Kabuga who was indicted by the now-defunct United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1997 made his first court appearance in the Paris Court of Appeal, on May 20.

He was indicted 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.

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