On October 26, 2020, Felicien Kabuga, implicated as a key perpetrator in the Rwandan genocide, was extradited to The Hague to face seven charges, including genocide and attempt to commit genocide. French authorities first arrested him in Paris. However, many parties, including Interpol and Rwandan authorities, were involved in the effort to find and charge the man who has been at large for over a quarter century. Initially, Kabuga was to be extradited to Arusha, Tanzania where the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was to begin the trial. However, Kabuga, now 87, claimed that his health was too poor from him to travel. At first, a French appellate court ruled he was safe to make the journey. But ultimately, because the courts had insufficient medical records for Kabuga, they moved him to The Hague to avoid a move as strenuous as the planned extradition to Arusha.
He is thought to have funneled money into militia groups. At the outbreak of the Rwandan genocide, Kabuga was the chairman of the National Defense Fund. He was also the richest man in Rwanda, having made his fortune in tea profits. He was related to the former president of the country through marriage.
One of the charges against Kabuga is conspiracy. His business was thought to be a base for aiding the creation of plans for the genocide. Furthermore, Kabuga was the main owner of a radio station used to promote anti-Tutsi propaganda. Though reward for Kabuga’s whereabouts was set to 5 million dollars, he had previously evaded capture by assuming different identities and moving from country to country. At his initial trials in France, Kabuga referred to these allegations as “lies”.
This trial has several serious implications. It proves that the MICT is able to flexibly find a way to provide justice for the victims of the genocide, regardless of whether or not the accused uses his or her advanced age or poor health as a buffer to stand trial. Furthermore, the success of French authorities in arresting and extraditing him indicates that international integration and cooperation can yield tremendous results for law enforcement. It has been 25 years since those 800,000 lives were lost, due to prejudice of the nature that Kabuga’s radio station propagated. But the day that the victims receive justice may be coming soon.