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 Rwandan Genocide Suspect Deemed Unfit To Stand Trial

The 90-year-old defendant was pronounced “no longer capable of meaningful participation” by the UN war crimes court.

Felicien Kabuga, a Rwandan genocide suspect, is unfit to stand trial, judges at a United Nations war crimes court at The Hague have ruled.

Kabuga, who is 88 according to officials but claims to be 90, had been living under a false identity and evaded capture for decades. He was arrested at his Paris home in May 2020 before being extradited to The Hague, where he entered a not-guilty plea.

He went on trial in September last year but refused to appear in court or remotely at the start of his trial. He has followed proceedings via video link from a wheelchair at the court’s detention centre.

The court put the trial on hold in March this year over health concerns.

“The trial chamber finds Mr Kabuga is no longer capable of meaningful participation in his trial,” a decision published on Wednesday by the court said.

The former businessman, who made his fortune in the tea trade, is one of the last suspects sought by the tribunal prosecuting crimes committed in the 1994 genocide when members of the country’s Hutu majority killed more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates in 100 days.

He is accused of financing Hutu militias as well as encouraging hate speech to be broadcast on his radio station, Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM).

In September 2022, UN prosecutor Rashid Rashid said in his opening statement that Kabuga did not need to pick up a microphone himself to call for the killing of Tutsis but founded a radio station that “broadcast genocidal propaganda across Rwanda”.

Prosecutors said the genocide charges covered rapes and sexual assaults, as well as killings. Hutus were encouraged in RTLM broadcasts to “taste” Tutsi women, they said.

He was also accused of supplying Hutu death squads with machetes. Kabuga has denied these charges.

Instead of halting the trial, the judges said on Wednesday they would set up an “alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction”.

Sixty-two Rwandan genocide suspects have been convicted by the tribunal so far.

Al Jezeera

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