UN Tribunal still undecided on repatriation of Rwanda genocide suspect to Arusha for trial

The United Nations Tribunal is yet to decide on whether the recently arrested Felician Kabuga would be brought to Arusha, Tanzania for trial. While the Prosecutor wants the former Rwandan businessman wanted for crimes against humanity transferred to The Hague, the President the Tribunal is yet to make its verdict known.

Mr. Kabuga was apprehended in Paris, France on Saturday last week after evading arrest for 26 years for his alleged role in the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

Serge Brammertz, the Prosecutor of Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) want the alleged architect of the human slaughter transferred to The Netherlands. The Mechanism is based in Arusha and took over the activities of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which closed business in December 2015. Among its tasks was to bring justice to the fugitives still on run once arrested. These included Kabuga, until then a wealthy businessman in Rwanda. ICTR was created by the UN Security Council in December 1994. By the time it closed shop it had convicted 61 fugitives and acquitted 14 others. Officials of the Mechanism could not be reached yesterday to clarify whether Mr. Kabuga would be tried in its facility at The Hague and not Arusha.

However, reports reaching The Citizen from multiple sources said the alleged genocide architect would initially be transferred to The Hague branch of the court.

The President of the Tribunal Judge Carmel Agius is yet to make a decision on the request which would require amendment of Kabuga’s Warrant of Arrest. The current Warrant of Arrest provides for transfer to the Arusha branch of Mechanism upon arrest, sources told The Citizen. However, in the light of the Covid-19, a transfer from France, if even possible, bears a number of practical challenges due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The Prosecutor of the Mechanism, based in Arusha, contend Kabuga’s transfer to The Hague “remains possible” despite the current travel restrictions in Europe. The former influential Rwandan businessman faces seven genocide-related counts and crimes against humanity. which led to the slaughter of over 800,000 people.

Legal experts say the transfer of the suspect to The Hague would mitigate potential litigation that can block his transfer to Arusha Until yesterday, Judge Agius has not responded to the request by the Prosecutor. On the day of arrest, the Prosecutor said Kabuga would be brought to Arusha for trial. Rwanda, which celebrated the stunning arrest, had also requested that Kabuga taken there to face trial on alleged genocide charges.

The other suspects still on the run, according to regular media briefs are Pheneas Munyarugarama, Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikuwabo, Ladislaus Ntaganzwa, Alloyes Ndimbati and one Ryandikayo.

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Abitegeka Gerald

The News Editor ,Reporter at Kagadi Kibaale community Radio

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