Rwanda: Kabuga Trial - UN Prosecutor Deploys Investigators to Kigali

The statue depicting the valour and heroism that was manifested during 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi by Rwandan Patriotic Front (now Rwanda Defence Force) soldiers (file photo).

The International Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has posted a team of ten lawyers and investigators who will stay here indefinitely to work on genocide mastermind Félicien Kabuga's case.

Serge Brammertz, the Chief Prosecutor of IRMCT, told journalists upon his arrival in Kigali that the team will stay in Rwanda on a fulltime basis and will continue to work on the case for as long as they are needed.

Kabuga was arrested in Paris in May last year by French authorities following a joint investigation with the IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor.

He has been in the custody of IRMCT in The Hague, Netherlands since October last year.

Brammertz, who is expected to spend three days in Rwanda on an official visit said that; "They are here to update the case file, to go back to a number of witnesses and victims' organisations, police, and others who may have helpful information,"

The Office of the Prosecutor General (in Rwanda), he disclosed, has given us two Prosecutors in his office "who are direct contact points for us."

He said that the team has so far conducted dozens of interviews with individuals who had already been interviewed in the past but who had to be re-interviewed and new witnesses that his office has discovered.

Progress of the case

Brammertz reminded that his office had submitted an amended indictment on January 15 and it streamlined the initial one, making it more focused and added more crimes in concrete for which Kabuga is indicted.

"It was accepted and we are now working on a pre-trial brief and in one to three months, the presiding judge will determine the next steps before the date of the trial is set. We are trying to go as fast as possible," he said.

Who is Kabuga?

Kabuga, known as the Financier of the Genocide, was a very wealthy businessman and the President of what was called the National Defence Fund from about April 25, 1994 to July 1994.

He was also the founding president of the team that founded the hate radio RTLM, known to be a key enabler of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The radio regularly gave detailed information about the people to be massacred and where they could be found.

Kabuga is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity, in respect of the genocide.

Until his arrest, Kabuga, who is now aged 85, was on the run since August 18, 1994 when the Swiss security services let him slip from their grasp. As the genocide progressed, Kabuga was reportedly given a visa to enter Switzerland.

He was expelled from Switzerland in 1994, and spent some time in DR Congo - then Zaire - before seeking refuge in Kenya.

He has, in the past, said to have escaped arrest in Kenya several times. Among others, in 1998, an ICTR team raided a Nairobi rented house and found a note indicating that the fugitive, who escaped arrest, had been tipped off by the police.

He is accused of establishing the hate radio, RTLM, training and equipping the Interahamwe militia, among others. According to financial documents found in Kigali after the Genocide, he used his companies to import vast quantities of machetes from China.

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