Kabuga demands discontinuation of his trial, release

On 19 June 2023 at 09:16

Genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga has been granted permission to appeal against the recent decision of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which deemed him unfit to stand trial and suggested an alternative legal procedure that would not result in a conviction.

The Prosecution, also granted permission to appeal, considers the ruling declaring Kabuga unfit for trial as an impediment to achieving justice in the case. The IRMCT had reached this decision on June 6, 2023, based on a medical report stating that Kabuga suffered from "severe dementia" and was unable to effectively participate in court proceedings.

In an order, the IRMCT stated that Kabuga is not fit for trial and is unlikely to regain fitness in the future. Consequently, the court proposed an alternative legal procedure that would avoid a conviction.

Although judges Iain Bonomy (presiding judge), Margaret M. deGuzman, and Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa approved the decision, judge Mustapha El Baaj dissented from his colleagues.

As a result, the Prosecution demanded the right to appeal against the ruling on June 13, 2023, arguing that the lack of consensus among the judges required further consideration of the case.

On Friday, June 16, the court announced that Kabuga’s defense team also requested permission to appeal the ruling. They claimed that since Kabuga was deemed unfit for trial and unlikely to regain fitness in the future, he should be released and his trial suspended or discontinued.

The defense team argued that no legal provisions were taken into account in ruling for an alternative legal procedure, and continuing the trial in such a manner would violate Kabuga’s fundamental rights.

The court’s statement revealed that both sides were granted permission to appeal against the ruling.

Félicien Kabuga is accused of financing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and co-founding Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a media outlet that disseminated hate speech and encouraged the killing of Tutsis.

Kabuga, believed to be in his late 80s, has been on trial at The Hague branch of the United Nations mechanism responsible for the operations of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since September of last year.

Meanwhile, IBUKA, the umbrella organization representing survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, recently filed a lawsuit seeking compensation worth Rwf50,000 billion from Félicien Kabuga for endured suffering due to effects of his actions.

The lawsuit was filed at the Gasabo Intermediate Court on Thursday, June 8, 2023.

Kabuga is accused of financing Genocide against the Tutsi and co-founding Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines that propagated hatred and mobilized for killings of Tutsis.