UN court declares top Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga ‘unfit’ to stand trial

UN court declares top Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga ‘unfit’ to stand trial

The Hague-based United Nations war crimes court has ruled that the 90-year-old Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga is “no longer capable of meaningful participation’ and thus ‘unfit’to stand trial.

While ‘unfit’ to stand trial, the judges still decided that the aging Rwandan genocide suspect should still go through a stripped-down legal process, the UN war crimes court announced Wednesday June 7.

Kabuga, who is 88 according to officials but claims to be two years older, is a former tycoon accused of setting up a hate broadcaster that fueled the 1994 slaughter of around 800,000 people. The suspect had been living under a false identity and evaded capture for decades before he was arrested at his Paris home in May 2020 and later extradited to The Hague, where he entered a not-guilty plea.

Kabuga went on trial in The Hague in September 2022, but judges said medical experts had now found that he had “severe dementia,” his mental abilities had “significantly deteriorated” before the trial, and thus could not take part properly in court.

Judges said they wanted to “adopt an alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction.” But the court said scrapping the trial altogether was “inappropriate,” as it was important to victims, survivors, and the international community that the genocide crimes against Kabuga still be addressed in court, the justices added.

Prosecutors accuse Kabuga, once one of Rwanda’s richest men, of establishing hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to kill rival Tutsis and of supplying death squads with machetes. Kabuga is one of the last Rwandan genocide suspects to face justice, with 62 convicted by the tribunal so far.

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