Félicien Kabuga: Rwanda genocide survivors happy with arrest
Rwandan genocide survivor groups have welcomed the arrest in France of one of the most wanted men accused of being behind the mass killings.
Félicien Kabuga, 84, was detained near Paris, where he had been living under a false identity.
He is alleged to have been the main financier of the ethnic Hutu extremists who slaughtered 800,000 people in 1994.
“Every genocide survivor is happy he is arrested,” the leader of widows’ group Avega told the BBC.
“Everyone has been waiting for this news because he was at the top of suspects list. It is a good thing that he is going to face justice,” Valerie Mukabayire added in an interview with the BBC Great Lakes service.
Ahishakiye Naphtal, secretary general of Ibuka, an umbrella organisation of genocide survivors, described the arrest as “big news”.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) charged Mr Kabuga with seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity in 1997.
Those behind the slaughter were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents.
Mr Naphtal said his members wanted Mr Kabuga to stand trial in Rwanda, which would “give a strong message to all Rwandans and genocide perpetrators in particular”.
But that is unlikely to happen as the case will be dealt with by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at The Hague, which is handling outstanding cases after the ICTR closed in 2015.
Following completion of appropriate procedures under French law, Mr Kabuga is expected to be transferred to the custody of the IRMCT.
Commenting in a tweet, Rwanda’s National Public Prosecution Authority welcomed the arrest adding that “Rwanda will continue to collaborate with the IRMCT to ensure that justice is delivered”.
The suspect, a wealthy businessman from the Hutu ethnic group, is accused of being one of the main funders of the Rwandan genocide, paying for the militias that carried out the massacres, BBC Africa editor Will Ross reports.
He also founded and funded the notorious Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a Rwandan broadcaster that actively encouraged people to search out and kill anyone who was from the Tutsi ethnic group.
Commenting on the arrest on Saturday, Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the IRMCT, said it was “a reminder that those responsible for genocide can be brought to account, even 26 years after their crimes”.
“For international justice, Kabuga’s arrest demonstrates that we can succeed when we have the international community’s support,” he added.
There are now two people earmarked for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda who remain at large – Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana.