This Wednesday afternoon, 9 November 2020, Félicien Kabuga appeared for the first time before in the Courtroom of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), in The Hague, pursuant to the “Order Scheduling an Initial Appearance” issued by Judge Iain Bonomy on 8 November 2020.
Kabuga is charged with seven counts of 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 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Félicien Kabuga was the President of the Comité provisoire of the Fonds de défense nationale (National Defence Fund) from about 25 April 1994 to July 1994 and President of the Comité d’Initiative of Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) during the time of the crimes pleaded in the indictment.
Kabuga was first indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on 26 November 1997, and was arrested near Paris on 16 May 2020, pursuant to a warrant of arrest and an order for transfer issued by the Mechanism.
After his arrest, Kabuga contested his extradition before the French courts, and on 30 September 2020, the French Cour de cassation rejected his appeal and authorised his transfer to the Mechanism’s custody.
Following that decision, Kabuga filed an urgent motion on 5 October 2020 requesting, inter alia, that his arrest warrant and order for transfer be amended to provide for his transfer to the Hague branch of the Mechanism rather than the Arusha branch, citing in particular his medical conditions and the health risks associated with travel. Both the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registrar of the Mechanism supported the request for Kabuga to be temporarily transferred to The Hague.
On 21 October 2020, Judge Iain Bonomy amended the arrest warrant and order for transfer to allow for Kabuga’s transfer to the United Nations Detention Unit at the Hague branch of the Mechanism. He was transferred to the Hague branch of the Mechanism on 26 October 2020, after having been at large for more than 22 years.
Kabuga’s case will be heard before a Trial Chamber composed of Judge Iain Bonomy, Presiding, Judge Graciela Susana Gatti Santana, and Judge Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya.
The Mechanism was established on 22 December 2010 by the United Nations Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions