Rwandan genocide suspect unfit for UN trial
Judges at the UN war crimes court in The Hague have declared Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga unfit to stand trial after medical examinations revealed he suffers from dementia.
Kabuga, 88, a radio station owner, is accused of being one of the funding sources of the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed over the course of 100 days.
He was arrested by French authorities near Paris in May 2020, having been on the run for nearly three decades. Kabuga was indicted for using his outlet, Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), to publicly incite the “commission of genocide and persecution through denigrating and threatening broadcasts.”
He was extradited to The Hague and entered a not-guilty plea in his first appearance in November 2020.
Kabuga has since been on trial at the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT). His lawyers are attempting to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he has memory impairment and is thus unfit to stand trial.
In March of this year, the tribunals agreed to a pause in his trial while his health was assessed.
In a decision on Tuesday published on the IRMCT’s website, the trial chamber declared that it “finds Mr. Kabuga is no longer capable of meaningful participation in his trial,” and is “very unlikely to regain fitness in the future.”
The decision was made after health experts unanimously determined that the suspect lacks the ability to comprehend the proceedings, understand the evidence, instruct counsel, or testify in court, as a result of dementia.
Kabuga’s lawyers have requested that the court declare their client’s case terminated and release him immediately. However, the judges said they will instead set up an “alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction.”