Félicien Kabuga refuses to appear in court as trial begins in substance

On 29 September 2022 at 02:17

The trial in substance for Félicien Kabuga, a mastermind of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has begun at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in The Hague, Netherlands.

The hearing of opening statements began on Thursday 29th September 2022 but Kabuga boycotted the court as revealed by Iain Bonomy, the presiding judge at the UN tribunal.

Bonomy said that Kabuga is in good health but did neither accept to attend in-person nor virtually.

The MICT recently rejected the request of Lawyer Philippe Larochelle who requested the suspension of Kabuga’s trial awaiting the ruling on suggested replacement of defence lawyer.

On 5th September, Lawyer Larochelle appealed against the ruling dismissing the request to replace Emmanuel Altit as Kabuga’s defence lawyer.

He claimed that Kabuga was denied rights to choose a preferred defence lawyer which ‘would have a negative effect on court’s proceedings’.

On 20th September 2022, MICT validated the relevance for Kabuga’s defence plea but rejected the request to suspend the trial.

According to The New York Times, Kabuga refused to appear in court, saying in a note that it was in protest against a refusal to let him change lawyers, but judges ordered that the proceedings should go ahead and asked the prosecution to read its opening statement.

Kabuga is charged with several counts including five related to genocide; genocide, complicity in genocide, director and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.

Other charges are persecution and extermination, both as crimes against humanity.

Arrested on 16th May 2020 in France, Kabuga was transferred to a UN tribunal in The Hague for stand trial. He is known as the Chief Financier of Genocide against Tutsi.

Kabuga was a wealthy businessman and core member of the Akazu (a small powerful circle of ideologues that masterminded the Genocide). He was also the founding president of the board of shareholders of hate radio RTLM, which incited killings.

Kabuga was originally scheduled to appear in court in Arusha, where the other arm of the MICT resides, but judges had ruled he would remain in The Hague "until otherwise decided."

Kabuga was a wealthy businessman and core member of the Akazu.