The responsible criminal tribunal of the United Nations (UN) in The Hague does not consider the accused Felicien Kabuga from Rwanda to be able to stand trial. A judge’s ruling said three court-appointed medical experts determined that Kabuga was suffering from severe dementia. His mental abilities have deteriorated significantly since the trial began in September. The Rwandan is therefore unable to follow what is happening in court, understand evidence, instruct his lawyers or testify.
Kabuga, who is officially 88 but claims to be 90, was considered one of the richest men in Rwanda. Among other things, he is said to have used his fortune to finance the radio station RTLM (Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines), which, as the mouthpiece of the Hutu majority, systematically called for the murder of Tutsi and also published their hiding places. According to UN estimates, around 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu fell victim to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The indictment accuses him of genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity, among other things.
“Alternative procedure without conviction”
The judges went on to say in their order that they wanted the accused to go through an “alternative trial” that would be as close to a trial as possible but without the possibility of a conviction.
It is important for the victims, survivors and the international community to continue hearing the Kabuga genocide crimes in court, the judges added. However, the accused is not obliged to take part in the new court proceedings.
The court first stayed the trial in March over health concerns, after previously denying requests by Kabuga’s defense attorneys to declare him unfit to stand trial.
Kabuga pleads not guilty
Kabuga denied the charges ahead of the trial and pleaded not guilty. After decades of fleeing, he was arrested by the French police in spring 2020 and handed over to the tribunal in The Hague.
He is one of the last Rwandan genocide suspects whose crimes are being investigated in court. At the end of May, another suspected main perpetrator of the genocide in Rwanda, former police officer Fulgence Kayishema, was arrested in South Africa.
se/AR (afp, rtr, ap)