Félicien Kabuga, the alleged financial head of the 1994 Rwandan genocide on Tutsis, was arrested in mid-May in a suburb exterior Paris. Police forces all around the world had been attempting to trace him down since 1997. The French authorities have now determined at hand him over to a UN court docket. RFI investigated the ins and outs of the search that ended one of many longest on-air temper in current occasions.
06.20 on Saturday, May 16: A unit from the elite Republican Guard strikes right into a residential space in Asnières, within the Hauts de Seine division close to Paris. They use a pneumatic jack to power the door to the small third flooring of a constructing with out description. Most spent a sleepless evening. What if Kabuga shouldn’t be there? Clues collected throughout months of veil trigger them to imagine that he’s, however to this point there was no arduous proof.
When the door was compelled open, they discover Donatien Nshimyumuremyi, aka Nshima, they discover Kabuga’s eldest son. He provides his title and factors to his father who continues to be in mattress.
Now within the 80s, the person who managed to remain on the air for greater than twenty years retains his skills on him. He solutions the intervention group in Kiswahili and pretends that he doesn’t perceive an interpreter who addresses him in Kinyarwanda.
He truly claims his title is Antoine Tounga and comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Accident this time: the group solely found final evening that this was the final alias he used – the 29th in 26 years on the go.
In addition, the group has an unbelievable card. One of the sexes discovers the scar on the best facet of his neck, proof that they’ve the best man.
It is 8-9 cm lengthy, in line with Interpol’s crimson message, and is the results of a minor neck operation that Kabuga carried out in Germany in 2007. The outdated man stops pretending, and a DNA take a look at confirms his identification two hours later.
So Operation 955 succeeded. It was named after the UN Resolution which gave rise to the International Criminal Court for Rwanda and was led by the French gendarmerie’s Central Office for Combating Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes (OCLCH) in shut contact with the court docket authorities in Paris.
Until then, Kabuga had prevented the arrest regardless of $ 5 million on his head for his seize by the US State Department as early as 2002 and the efforts of 5 worldwide prosecutors for 20 years. He was one of many remaining Rwandan genocide refugees from justice who continues to be on the run.
How did we get right here?
Back in July 2019, Serge Brammertz, the prosecutor on the International Criminal Court Remand Mechanism, who took over from ICTR after it was closed in December 2015, determined a brand new technique in view of the failure to grab one of many primarily adopted Génocidaires nonetheless largely years of labor by the mechanism. He modified each personnel and strategies.
Brammertz convened a large-scale assembly in The Hague, within the Netherlands. The aim was to work intently with groups of specialists who observe refugees from justice in a number of European nations, particularly Belgium, the United Kingdom and France, the place most of Kabuga’s 13 kids stay.
Although observations of Kabuga over time have been reported in Gabon, Burundi and Kenya, Brammertz is satisfied that he’s now hiding in Europe – he was final found in Germany 12 years earlier.
His household and different individuals have been monitored. In February 2020, they acquired a tip a few French connection. Although the primary lead turned out to be disappointing, the French investigators exerted their efforts – search phrases, phone cranes, geo-monitoring of Kabuga’s shut acquaintances …
A number of weeks later, the British police instructed their French colleagues that one among Kabuga’s daughters, who lives in London, frequently travels from the UK to Belgium by way of France. Closer monitoring confirmed that the lady spent extra time in France than in Belgium. His cellular phone calls have been traced again to Asnières, a suburb of Paris, however the household has no recognized dwelling there.
Recently locked in, and teleworking in a rustic that was all of the sudden stopped on March 17 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the investigator who monitored the investigation used this hiatus in regular life to dive primarily into analyzing the information from varied sources: detailed phone faucet stories on conversations , particularly cellphone payments for individuals near the refugee.
This offered a complete map of their motion and led to the next conclusion: over a 12 months, virtually all of the alleged kids génocidaire actively maintained the identical sort of phone community from Asnières, the place Séraphine Uwimana was found.
At the top of March, by way of a request from the tax workplace, the group of investigators discovered that an residence in Asnières had been rented for “years“Under the title Habumukiza, the surname of Félicien Kabuga’s son, the thirdrd flooring of an residence constructing on Rue du Révérand Père Christian Gilbert.
This was an necessary discovery, however nonetheless didn’t give simple proof that Félicien Kabuga lived there.
Immediately after this discovery, the Kabuga household’s financial institution assertion obtained by way of court docket request started to make sense. A financial institution switch of $ 10,000 was made to Beaujon Hospital in Clichy, within the Hauts-de-Seine division and never so removed from Asnières.
The switch was made in the summertime of 2019 by Bernadette Uwamariya, one among his daughters and thought of to be the pinnacle of the Kabuga clan in Paris. She can be the widow of Jean-Pierre Habyarimana, one of many sons of the previous Rwandan president of the identical title. The investigators determined to observe this thread.
Over the next days, the stress has receded. It was early May and the cellphone buttons on Félicien Kabuga’s kids revealed a big improve in arrivals and journey from the residence.
Some investigators imagine that this exercise is “abnormal”. What was happening? Can Félicien Kabuga be lifeless? Did they put together their escape? These ideas stream by way of the minds of the investigation group.
In a land of lockdown, with abandoned streets and closed outlets, it will be inconceivable to prepare hiding Kabuga with out the danger of being caught. The investigators maintain their distance. Some of them demanded a right away raid on the residence and feared that the refugee would slip by way of his fingers.
Perhaps they remembered that three years earlier, throughout the funeral of Félicien Kabuga’s spouse on a February day in Waterloo, the Belgian police (satisfied that Kabuga could be current) had tried to begin an operation for his seize. It failed.
25 years on the go
However, it was a reassuring factor: During this era, a phone crane who listened to one among his daughters talked about that Félicien Kabuga was “Alive“.
This was a happiness because the household rigorously avoids utilizing their father’s title in cellphone calls.
“To cover 25 years on the go, you have to be well organized. They have had plenty of time to break in, ”in line with a supply near the investigation. “In two months, it was the first time we could say with certainty that he was still alive.”
On May 11, one other discovery put the investigation into excessive alert. Donati – the eldest son and Belgian resident who was supervised by the native police – fled from his surveillance. He was now doubtless in France – in Asnières.
“For what reason, except for a girlfriend or a sick parent, would a man stay in a place hundreds of miles from his home in the midst of a health crisis?” requested one of many sources close to the investigation
The entire story took off once more on May 15. On that day, investigators discovered that the person who underwent colon surgical procedure on the hospital in Beaujon in the summertime of 2019 was within the 80s.
His title was Antoine Tounga in line with the photocopy of a Congolese passport offered by the hospital. This was not a reputation recognized to the investigators. They instantly started testing DNA samples taken from Beaujon Hospital to check with one other pattern from 2007, which they gave them by the German police that they had taken earlier than dropping him off.
The outcomes match; Félicien Kaubuga and Antoine Tounga are the identical individual.
A brand new battle begins
But the phone cranes revealed one other spherical of intense and disturbing exercise that was happening. The determination was made to place ahead the date of the frantic operation which, they hope, would result in the arrest of Félicien Kabuga.
It would happen the next morning. It could be about saving not just one residence, however 4 concurrently – the one in Asnières, but additionally three different residences recognized to the household within the Paris area, together with on Rue Baudricourt within the metropolis of Félicien Kabuga. “We needed to be prepared for every kind of outcomes, we had no proof of the place he could be. We couldn’t let this fail. ”
And thus ends the 25 years on the flight of Félicien Kabuga, in France at daybreak, betrayed by phone surveillance of those that labored for a number of years to guard him: his kids.
That day, for the household, a brand new battle started – the authorized battle.