The Rwanda genocide fugitive Félicien Kabuga is now in the custody of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague.
The 87-year-old alleged mastermind of the horrific killings in Rwanda in 1994 was temporarily transferred from France on Monday to the UN’s detention facility in the Netherlands.
“His initial appearance will be held in due course before a Judge of the Trial Chamber is assigned to his case,” the Mechanism which is based in Arusha said yesterday in a statement.
Kabuga, once considered the richest person in Rwanda, eluded arrest for his role in the killings for the past 25 years until May this year when he was apprehended in Paris, France.
He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.
Other charges include extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity, in respect of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.
He was first indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on 26 November 1997, and arrested on May 16, pursuant to a warrant of arrest and an order for transfer issued by the Mechanism.
Despite contesting extradition before the French courts, his appeal was rejected by the French ‘Cour de Cassation’ on September 30, authorizing his transfer to the Mechanism facility in Arusha, Tanzania.
He later filed an urgent motion on October 5th requesting inter alia that his arrest warrant and order for transfer to Arusha be amended so that he is transferred to the Tribunal’s branch in The Hague.
According to the statement, both the Office of the Prosecutor and Registrar of the Mechanism in Arusha supported the request for Kabuga’s temporary transfer to The Hague.
His case will be heard before a Trial Chamber composed of Judge Iain Bonomy, Presiding, Judge Graciela Susana Gatti Santana, and Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya.
Human rights activists, the genocide survivors and Rwanda government have pressed for the trial of the fugitive in Arusha, the seat of the now disbanded ICTR which indicted him in the late 1990s.
But Kabuga remained a key suspect of the genocide triggered by the killing of the former Rwanda president Juvenal Habyarimana when his plane was shot over Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.
He had a $ 5million cash prize offered by the United States in reward for information that would lead to his arrest.
Before it closed shop in December 2015, the Tribunal convicted 61 fugitives and acquitted 14 others. Six others are still at large and are being hunted down across the world.