Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi welcomed a French court’s decision to hand over genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga to the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in Arusha.
Mr Kabuga’s lawyers had argued in court on Wednesday that their client would not receive a fair trial in Arusha, adding that the 84-year old man’s health is at risk if he is flown to another country during the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawyers had also asked MICT chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz to consider leaving the case with France’s judiciary.
But the court said his health was “not incompatible” with a transfer. Mr Kabuga is currently being held in a Paris prison.
Survivors of the genocide say that trying Mr Kabuga in France—as he had requested—would jeopardise the trial since France’s role in his evasion of justice for over two decades is still questionable.
“Kabuga was arrested in Paris, where he was hiding and being helped to evade justice by individuals and governments. We completely opposed his desire to be tried in France because those who helped him to hide there could still influence the court during his trial,” Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, president of Ibuka, an umbrella organization for genocide survivors, told The EastAfrican.
Survivors’ associations last week signed a petition requesting that the suspected genocide financier be moved to Rwanda and tried “where he participated in the atrocities”.
They said that they will continue with their petition and negotiate for his deportation even after the French court’s decision for him to be tired in Arusha.
“Our first achievement is the decision denying him a trial in France where he was hiding. Now we have to continue with the negotiations to see him transferred to Rwanda,” Prof Dusingizemungu said.
“The Arusha court has the jurisdiction to try him, but it is limited on determining the very important aspect of compensation to the genocide survivors whose lives he destroyed.”
Rwandan prosecutors are not pushing for his transfer to Rwanda, saying they will assist the MICT prosecutors in “any way possible.”