UN prosecutors accuse the former tea and coffee tycoon of bankrolling and importing huge numbers of machetes for ethnic Hutu militias
Amsterdam – A United Nations judge on Wednesday ordered that Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, who has been in a French jail since May, be sent to a detention unit in The Hague out of health considerations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision means that Kabuga, 84, is likely spend at least several months in The Hague and be brought before an international judge there for an initial appearance in his war crimes case, rather than in Tanzania as originally planned.
UN prosecutors accuse the former tea and coffee tycoon of bankrolling and importing huge numbers of machetes for ethnic Hutu militias who killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda during a 100-day period in 1994.
Kabuga, who has yet to appear before the UN court, dismissed accusations against him as “lies” during French extradition hearings.
It had been uncertain where exactly Kabuga would be sent after France’s top civil court ruled on September 30. he could be turned over to UN custody in Arusha, Tanzania.
“I consider that there are exceptional circumstances and that it would be in the interests of justice” to have Kabuga sent to The Hague, Judge Iain Bonomy said in a written decision from Arusha.
Former UN tribunals for war crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia have been rolled over into a successor court that has dual offices in The Hague, Netherlands, and Arusha.
Bonomy’s order said the court has yet to receive Kabuga’s medical files, and that the relatively short distance between Paris and The Hague meant Kabuga’s transfer there would pose “far less risk”.
He said the date of Kabuga’s initial appearance is not certain due in part for a need for him to be quarantined for 10 days after arrival.
The Netherlands is one of Europe’s Covid-19 hotspots, while Tanzania’s president has said its cornavirus outbreak is over. However the African national has been criticised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for not sharing enough data.