Rwanda genocide suspect unfit to stand trial, UN court says

Composition of the Rwandan Genocide Félicien Kabuga

Félicien Kabuga, who made his fortune in the tea trade, avoided capture for decades

An 88-year-old man accused of being a major backer of the 1994 Rwandan genocide is unfit to stand trial, a UN court has heard.

Félicien Kabuga’s lawyers had argued that he suffered from dementia.

He was arrested in Paris in 2020 after evading capture for 26 years, apparently moving to East Africa.

He allegedly funded ethnic Hutu militias that massacred around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He denied the charges.

It is the first time a court has made such a decision in a decades-long campaign to bring Rwandan genocide suspects to justice.

In their ruling, judges at a United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague said Mr Kabuga was “unfit to participate meaningfully in his trial and it is highly unlikely that he will regain his fitness in the future”.

The judges proposed an alternative legal procedure that “resembles a trial as much as possible, but without the possibility of conviction”.

The court adjourned his trial in March to allow an assessment of his condition. According to court documents, he is 88, although there is some dispute as to his precise age.

It is alleged that Mr Kabuga used his large fortune, acquired in the tea trade of the 1970s, to buy machetes used to arm Hutu death squads.

The wealthy businessman is also accused of using his radio station to urge Hutus to kill Tutsis, fueling the genocide by spreading inflammatory hate speech.

French investigators found him in an apartment in Paris where he was living under a false identity.

The US had offered a $5m (£4.1m) reward for information leading to his arrest.

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