Félicien Kabuga, the alleged “financier” of the Rwandan genocide, arrested in the Paris suburbs, Saturday May 16, 2020, appeared on Wednesday May 20 for the first time before the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal which is to be rule on his possible transfer to international justice, so that he will be tried for “genocide” and “crimes against humanity”.
At the request of his lawyers, the hearing was adjourned to May 27 next week. The appearance was therefore very brief. But it made it possible to learn that Félicien Kabuga is opposed to his transfer to international justice. He wishes to be tried in France. When he entered the courtroom, his relatives stood up to send him words of encouragement. Félicien Kabuga greeted them with his hand. He appears in a wheelchair.
In a weak voice, he indicated that he was 87 years old and not 84 as mentioned in his arrest warrant. He seems unmoved by the charges brought against him. Then he announced by the voice of one of his lawyers, Maître Laurent Bayon, that he opposed his referral to international justice: ” We wish, including for his health, including for the conditions under which he will be brought to trial, that he will be tried in France and that is his wish. Our client is not doing well, he really has difficulties, including understanding what is being accused of him. And for that, we will request an expertise extremely quickly in a very short time. ”
Then the lawyer accuses the prosecution of “ precipitate “The calendar in order to” get rid of By Félicien Kabuga, as soon as possible. He requests an adjournment of the hearing within eight days and obtains it. And calls for respect for his presumption of innocence, violated according to him: The attorney general and the national gendarmerie welcomed on May 16, the day of his arrest, saying that our client was “genocidal”. Mr. Kabuga has not been tried! ”
When leaving the audience, still assisted by an escort from the gendarmerie, Félicien Kabuga raised his hands and fist towards his relatives, including one of his sons. Once the hearing is held, the Paris Court of Appeal will have fifteen days to rule on the validity of the arrest warrant issued by the Mechanism, the structure responsible for completing the work of the International Tribunal for Rwanda and decide to transfer it there. If necessary, the arrest warrant provides that the trial will be held in Arusha, but the prosecutor stressed yesterday that due to the current health crisis, it was not excluded that Félicien Kabuga was, at first at least, sent to The Hague.
►Read also: Short hearing at the Paris court for Félicien Kabuga, suspected of genocide in Rwanda
After the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, the rant of the lawyer of Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of Juvenal Habyarimana
For Me Philippe Meilhac, after remarks made by NGOs or commentators following the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, it is tendentious to compare the situation of this man to that of the widow of the former Rwandan president, killed a few hours before the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda, in the plane crash. Ms. Habyarimana lives in France. She had been the subject of a request for extradition from Kigali which had been refused by French justice and of a complaint of more than 10 years which never gave rise to any prosecution.
” Agathe Habyarimana, says Master Philippe Meilhac, is particularly shocked by certain comments which accompanied the announcement of the arrest of Félicien Kabuga on French territory last weekend, comments which would tend to want to link his fate and his judicial situation in France with that of Félicien Kabuga who, I recalled, has been prosecuted for many years by the international criminal jurisdiction, which has never been the case of Ms. Habyarimana. I even heard some come to ask the question of whether the arrest of Félicien Kabuga should not also lead to that of Agathe Habyarimana, which and I say it very clearly are rather delusional words, which do not correspond to the everything to the judicial reality. ”
” Madame Habyarimana, he continues, was effectively the subject in a very particular context in 2007, when she sought political asylum, of a criminal complaint by the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda, which led to the opening of judicial information. But, after years of judicial information, to date, Ms. Habyarimana has not been indicted. She was placed four years ago under the assisted witness regime and she remains under this assisted witness regime so much so, I say it just as clearly, in the next few days we will be asking for a dismissal for his benefit as has already been the case for other Rwandan nationals “