Félicien Kabuga, alleged to be a leading figure in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, was apprehended in Paris by French authorities as a result of a joint investigation with the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT).
He was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 on seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Arrest sends ‘powerful message’
“Mr. Kabuga’s apprehension sends a powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed such crimes cannot evade justice and will eventually be held accountable, even more than a quarter of a century later,” the statement said.
As head of the Comité Provisoire of the Fonds de défense nationale (“National Defence Fund”) from about 25 April 1994 to July 1994, Mr. Kabuga allegedly helped finance the genocide,
He was also president of the Comité d’Initiative of Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines, whose broadcasts were used by Hutu extremists to incite hatred against Tutsis and identify individuals for subsequent killing.
“The Secretary-General’s thoughts today are first and foremost with the victims of Mr. Kabuga’s alleged crimes, the victims of other serious international crimes, and their families. Ending impunity is essential for peace, security and justice,” the UN statement continued.
Coordinated cooperation on arrest
Mr. Kabuga was arrested in what was described as a sophisticated, coordinated operation with simultaneous searches across a number of locations.
He is expected to be transferred to the IRMCT, where he will stand trial.
“For international justice, Kabuga’s arrest demonstrates that we can succeed when we have the international community’s support,” said Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor at the UN mechanism.
“This result is a tribute to the unwavering commitment of the United Nations Security Council, which established the Mechanism to continue the accountability process in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.”
Mr. Kabuga had been wanted by the IRMCT since 2013. The mechanism performs essential functions previously carried out by the international tribunal for Rwanda, which closed in December 2015, and another for the former Yugoslavia, which closed two years later.
The UN Secretary-General praised the cooperation between the UN mechanism and the French authorities for the arrest, underlining the responsibility of all States to cooperate with the IRMCT in locating and arresting any fugitives at large.