Rwandan Genocide Suspect’s Trial opening at UN Court

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Written By Prajeeta Basnet

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Rwandan Genocide Suspect’s Trial opening at UN Court: Nearly 30 years after the 100-day bloodbath that claimed 800,000 lives, a frail 87-year-old Rwandan is accused of inciting and funding the country’s 1994 genocide. He is set to go on trial at a United Nations tribunal on Thursday. The beginning of Félicien Kabuga’s trial signals a significant day of reckoning for Rwandans who survived the atrocities or whose families were assassinated because he is one of the last fugitives prosecuted over the genocide to face justice.

It’s never too late for justice to be served, according to Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the Ibuka organization of genocide survivors. A genocide crime is impossible to escape, not even with money and protection. Ahead of the trial on Thursday before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Ahishakiye said in Rwanda. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down and landed in the capital Kigali, setting off the mass massacre of Rwanda’s Tutsi minority.

Rwandan Genocide Suspect’s Trial opening at UN Court: Killing the leader, an ethnic Hutu like the majority of Rwandans. The minority Tutsi were accused of bringing the aircraft down. armed forces, law enforcement, and militias assisted groups of Hutu extremists when they started killing Tutsis and those who they believed to be their supporters. The 15-page accusation against Kabuga claims that as a successful businessman with connections to the Hutu political elite, he encouraged genocide through Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, a station he helped found and support (RTLM). He is also alleged to have funded the purchase of machetes and other weapons that militias used to massacre Tutsis and those who they believed to be their supporters.

In the indictment, it is claimed that Kabuga and other radio station employees “operated RTLM in a manner that furthered hatred and violence against Tutsi and others perceived as “accomplices” or “allies,” and agreed to disseminate an anti-Tutsi message with the aim of eradicating the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda.” According to the indictment, the broadcaster in certain instances divulged the whereabouts of Tutsis so that they could be found and killed.

Rwandan Genocide Suspect’s Trial opening at UN Court

The indictment claims that “RTLM broadcasts glorified this violence, celebrating homicides, applauding killers, and inciting criminals to carry out further acts of violence at roadblocks and other sites.” Additionally, he is charged with arming and funding “Interahamwe” militias that are Hutu extremists, including “Kabuga’s Interahamwe.”Kabuga is accused of committing genocide, inciting genocide, conspiring to commit genocide, and also of persecuting, eradicating, and killing people. He entered a not-guilty plea. He could receive a life sentence in jail if found guilty.

Kabuga, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, had spent years avoiding international efforts to find him before he was finally apprehended in May 2020, close to Paris. He was moved to The Hague to appear in court at the residual mechanism, a tribunal that hears unresolved matters from the now-defunct U.N. tribunals for the Rwandan and Balkan wars. Kabuga’s attorneys failed in their attempt to get him declared unfit for trial. However, the procedure will only last two hours per day per the recommendation of the medical professionals that evaluated Kabuga.

According to genocide survivor Justin Rugabwa, five members of his family managed to hide throughout the genocide for a number of days before Kabuga’s radio station learned of their presence.

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