By Damon Mitchell •
Published: 20 May 2020 • 18:28
RWANDAN genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga appears before French court today (Wednesday) having been indicted on charges of genocide related to the 1994 Rwandan massacre of some 800,000 people, four days after his arrest following a quarter of a century on the run.
Kabuga is accused of bankrolling and arming the ethnic Hutu militias that waged the 100-day killing spree against Rwanda’s Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Rwanda’s most wanted fugitive was arrested on Saturday in a Paris suburb.
In his first appearance in public in more than two decades, Kabuga was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, dressed in jeans and a blue jumper and wearing a face mask.
His lawyers said in a statement ahead of the hearing that Kabuga had the right to be presumed innocent and opposed being transferred from France to a UN tribunal that handles crimes against humanity based in Tanzania.
Defence lawyer Laurent Bayon told the court Kabuga wished to be tried in France.
The IRMCT’s chief prosecutor said that the court had already requested Kabuga be transferred to United Nations custody.
Kabuga could be held initially in The Hague rather than Africa due to coronavirus travel restrictions, said prosecutor Serge Brammertz.
The French court granted a request by the defence to defer the hearing and set the next date for May 27.
Kabuga’s arrest marked the end of a more than two-decade-long hunt that spanned Africa and Europe.
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