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newtimes - 1 month ago

Where does the French court ruling on Kabuga leave survivors’ request?

A French court on Wednesday, June 3, ruled that suspected Genocide mastermind Felicien Kabuga be transferred, from France, to the custody of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT), for trial. The latest development, however, still does not provide answers to a request by survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda for a domestic trial. The umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations, Ibuka had earlier on requested that Kabuga be transferred for trial in Rwanda, where they said he should also serve his sentence, once convicted. Dr. Alphonse Muleefu, an international criminal law expert, told The New Times that: “The statute that established the Mechanism reserved cases of the most senior leaders to the Mechanism, but I think the Mechanism can see how it can bring justice closer to the victims.” “Just like the Mechanism’s Prosecutor had earlier requested for Kabuga to be transferred to The Hague, he can, in the same way request for a trial to be conducted in Rwanda.” The academic also underlined that the same statute provides for concurrent jurisdiction. This, he explained, means that “national jurisdictions are not completely prohibited from prosecuting those cases if the Mechanism agrees.” Muleefu is also of the view that if the trial takes place in Rwanda, ordinary citizens will ably follow proceedings. Wednesday’s ruling came after the request for bail by the former businessman was turned down by a French court on May 27. Kabuga last appeared in court on May 27, a week after his lawyers were granted more time to prepare their case. On Wednesday, Richard Gisagara, a Rwandan lawyer based in France who is following up on the case, told The New Times that the Paris Court of Appeal rejected all of Kabuga’s pleas and then ruled that he be handed over to the Mechanism, specifically its Arusha branch in Tanzania. Gisagara added: “I think he is now going to appeal to another court, the Cour de Cassation.” Just last week, William Sekule, the duty judge at the Arusha branch of the Mechanism ruled that Kabuga will be transferred to Arusha, Tanzania once conditions allow. The Mechanism’s prosecutor had filed an urgent motion seeking the temporary transfer of Kabuga to The Hague citing the ongoing Covid-19 crisis which temporarily halted air travel. However, Sekule ruled that there was no need for the temporary transfer even before the suspect exhausts the ongoing process on extradition in French courts. Kabuga has opposed his extradition and wants to be tried but in France. Earlier, Gisagara had noted that the judicial proceedings in France could take a few months before a decision is made. After his interrogation by prosecution last month, Kabuga also made his first court appearance in the Paris Court of Appeal, on May 20. He was indicted by the now-defunct United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in 1997 which was later amended in 2011. The Mechanism took over from the ICTR. He was indicted on seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination, all in relation to crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in Rwanda.


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