Félicien Kabuga back in court on Thursday in Genocide case

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Genocide (IRMCT) will resume the pre-trial hearing for top Genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga on Thursday February 3.

Kabuga was arrested in France in May 2020, and last appeared in court on October 6, 2021. He is currently detained at The Hague in The Netherlands, where the hearing will also be heard from.

“I hereby schedule an in-person status conference for Thursday 3 February, 2022 at 2.30 p.m. in the Courtroom of the Hague Branch of the Mechanism,” reads a notice from Judge lain Bonorny, the pre-trial judge in the case.

However, according to the judge, Kabuga may choose to appear via video-teleconference link or waive his right to be present, should he elect to do so.

After remaining silent during his initial court appearance that took place on 11 November 2020, Kabuga pleaded not guilty, and he is currently in the custody of the Mechanism in The Hague since October 26 when he was transferred after his arrest.

Kabuga is charged with genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and persecution on political grounds, extermination, and murder as crimes against humanity.

The mechanism took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda which was established by the UN to try key masterminds of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

In April, last year, the mechanism’s chief prosecutor dispatched a team of ten lawyers and investigators to Rwanda to stay in the country indefinitely and work on Kabuga’s case to conclusion.

In December last year, while addressing the UN Security Council in New York, Rwanda’s outgoing Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Valentine Rugwabiza expressed concern over the continued delays in the commencement of the substantive trial of Kabuga, who had escaped justice for close to three decades before his capture.

Until his arrest, Kabuga, 87, was on the run since August 18, 1994, when the Swiss security services let him slip from their grasp. As the genocide progressed, Kabuga was reportedly given a visa to enter Switzerland.

He was known as the Financier of the Genocide, a wealthy businessman and the president of what was called the National Defence Fund from about April 25, 1994, to July 1994.

A core member of the Akazu – a small circle of architects of the Genocide against the Tutsi, and the founding president of the board of shareholders of hate radio RTLM, known as a key enabler of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The radio regularly gave detailed information about the people to be massacred and where they could be found.