The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on Wednesday, November 11 started the hearing of the case of Felicien Kabuga, a genocide mastermind who was arrested in France in May.
The trial which went underway at the Mechanism's seat in The Hague, in The Netherlands, started by the Registrar of the court, Abubacarr M. Tambadou reading the indictment which outlines the charges Kabuga stands accused of.
According to the indictment, Kabuga faces seven counts including five related to genocide; genocide, complicity in genocide, director and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.
Other charges are persecution and extermination, both as crimes against humanity.
Kabuga who attended the session wearing a dark suit and a facemask, was sat throughout the reading of the indictment. His lawyers were also with him.
According to the indictment, Kabuga committed the alleged crimes in different parts of the country including in Kigali, in Rubavu District, which was formerly Gisenyi, and in Byumba in the current Gicumbi District, where he is born.
"When carrying out the criminal conduct alleged in this indictment Felicien Kabuga had the intent to destroy in whole or in part persons identified as Tutsis and acted in order to discriminate against Tutsis on racial and political" said the Tambadou, reading from the indictment.
According to the indictment, Kabuga, whom the indictment describes as a wealthy and connected businessman, used his power, influence and position of authority to ensure that the crimes for which he is charged were committed.
Kabuga, who is pinned by the UN court on having founded RTLM, a hate radio that was at the centre of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
"The contents of RTLM broadcasts in 1994, particularly after 6 April, directly and publicly incited the commission of genocide in that these broadcasts expressly identified Tutsis as such, identified their locations, described them as the enemy," says the indictment.
Kabuga was arrested in the French capital Paris after avoiding capture for over 26 years.
He was one of the three so-called 'Big Fish'; three people that were being sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, before it folded and replaced by the Mechanism.
The other suspects are former Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana, whom the UN prosecutor has since declared to have died, while the other one is Protais Mpiranya, the former commander of the notorious presidential guard, which orchestrated killings mainly in Kigali during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mpiranya remains on the run.
Kabuga was initially to be tried in Arusha, Tanzania, which is one of the two seats of the Mechanism, which took over from both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia.
He however asked that he should instead be tried in The Hague, citing the coronavirus pandemic that makes it difficult for the long-haul flight from France to Tanzania.