Félicien Kabuga, who is being held in a Parisian jail after he was arrested earlier this month for crimes related to the Rwandan genocide twenty-six years ago, will be transferred to and detained in Arusha, Tanzania, once lockdown-related travel restrictions are lifted. Judge William Sekule of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) ruled on May 28 in response to a request to temporarily transfer Kabuga to The Hague.
Following his arrest in a Parisian suburb earlier this month, Kabuga appeared before a French court on May 20, where his lawyers said he wanted to be tried in France. The UN tribunal’s prosecutor said a request had already been issued to transfer him to United Nations custody, and that he could initially be held in The Hague rather than in Africa.
The French court is set to rule on June 3 whether to hand him over to the MICT to be tried in Arusha.
The Elusive Genocidaire
Kabuga had been on the run since the end of the genocide in 1994, passing through several African and European countries before settling in France under a false identity. The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted him in absentia in 1997 on seven counts of genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity. When the tribunal was closed in 2015, its responsibilities were transferred to the MICT, which is based in The Hague but also has an office in Arusha.
A well-connected and highly influential businessman during the rule of President Juvénal Habyarimana, Kabuga stands accused of using his vast wealth to arm the Interahamwe militia that carried out gruesome ethnically-targeted killings against the minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, contributing to the slaughter of an estimated 1 million people in the span of four months. He also founded Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines, a radio station that broadcast racist propaganda intended to incite violence against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
For 24 years, Kabuga was always a step ahead of investigators and had dozens of false identities. He escaped Rwanda after the Rwandan Patriotic Front ended the Genocide and has been on the run since.