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Who should try Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga?

16 61 0
02.06.2020

The legal battles over where Felicien Kabuga should be tried have begun.

The former businessman accused of being a major financial backer of Hutu extremism in the build-up to, and during, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was arrested in a flat on the outskirts of Paris on May 16.

As an international fugitive, Kabuga is thought to have lived in at least six countries in his 26 years on the run. He could now be tried in locations as diverse as Tanzania, France, the Netherlands or Rwanda. Where this trial is held matters. A trial in Rwanda will be more meaningful to the people who experienced the genocidal violence Kabuga is indicted for.

When French police entered Kabuga's flat, they were acting on an indictment and arrest warrant issued by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), charging Kabuga with genocide and six other related offences. The IRMCT was set up to conclude the work of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) established by a Security Council resolution in 1994.

In Kabuga's first two court appearances in France, his lawyers indicated that they would oppose their client's transfer to the IRMCT on the basis of fair trial concerns before this international court and would argue for a domestic trial in France. At the same time, the IRMCT has initially rejected, although not entirely ruled out, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz's request to transfer Kabuga to The Hague in the Netherlands rather than Arusha, Tanzania, the former seat of the ICTR.

A trial in Rwanda is also possible, either in situ under the auspices of the IRMCT if deemed "in the interests of justice" or through the referral of the case by this international court to Rwanda. To date, the IRMCT has referred three suspects along with five fugitive dossiers to Rwanda. However, it retains exclusive jurisdiction over "the most senior leaders suspected of being most responsible", a category into which Kabuga is currently assumed to fall.

Kabuga's case fits into a wide and deeply contested picture of post-genocide justice. The........

© Al Jazeera