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Rwanda genocide suspect okayed for trial by UN tribunal

Felicien Kabuga attended the Paris court hearing in a wheelchair and barely reacted when the decision was read out Wednesday.

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Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga.

A Paris appeals court ruled Wednesday that Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, arrested in France after evading police in several countries for 25 years, should be handed over to a UN tribunal in Tanzania to stand trial.

Accused of financing the 1994 genocide of some 800,000 people, Kabuga had asked for a trial in France, citing frail health and claiming the United Nations court in Africa would be biased against him, and possibly hand him over to Rwandan authorities.

His transfer still faces a final hurdle with defence lawyers planning to appeal the ruling at France’s highest court of appeal.

He attended the hearing in a wheelchair and barely reacted when the decision was read out. 

A lawyer for the 84-year-old Kabuga said he would appeal the decision to hand him over to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which is based in The Hague but has a branch in Arusha, Tanzania.

“I was expecting this, because it’s a highly politicised case,” said one of his lawyers, Laurent Bayon.

“A transfer to Arusha, and the detention conditions there, would not allow him to survive, so a full trial would not be possible, neither for him nor the victims,” he said.

If the appeal is accepted by France’s court of cassation, a decision would be issued within two months. If it endorses his transfer, he would have one month to appear before the international court.

Described as Africa’s most wanted man, Kabuga was arrested on May 16 at his home outside Paris, where he had been living under a false name.

A judge in The Hague ruled last month, however, that Kabuga should be tried in Arusha by the MICT, which took over the duties of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda when it formally closed in 2015.

Kabuga, once one of Rwanda’s richest men, was indicted by the tribunal in 1997 on seven counts, including genocide.

He is accused of forming the notorious Interahamwe militia that carried out massacres, and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines, whose broadcasts incited people to murder.

Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis but also moderate Hutus were slaughtered over 100 days of ethnic violence committed by Hutu extremists in 1994.

“These are all lies. Everything I did helped the Tutsis, and my businesses offered them credit — I wasn’t going to go and kill my clients,” he told the court, speaking in Kinyarwanda. An AFP report said.

– Hiding with family’s help -The UN tribunal charged him in 1997 with “genocide” as well as “direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” using his position as chairman of Rwanda’s FDN national defence fund to funnel money to militia groups.

It noted in particular that he arranged for shipments of “an impressive number of machetes and other weapons to the Interahamwe militia”.

He is also accused of directly supervising Interahamwe massacres in Gisenyi, northwestern Rwanda, and in the Kigali district of Kimironko.

Prosecutors say Kabuga’s money and connections helped him avoid arrest for decades after he fled Rwanda for Switzerland in July 1994, though he was ordered to leave the country just one month later.

He later moved to the former Zaire and then Kenya, where he managed to avoid three arrest attempts.

In 2002, the US government offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

French officials said new intelligence allowed them to track Kabuga down at an apartment in the Paris suburb of Asnieres-sous-Bois, where he had been hiding out for the past three or four years with the help of his children.

Along with top-ranking military figure Protais Mpiranya, who is still at large, Kabuga was one of the most significant suspects still sought over the genocide.

Another key suspect, former defence minister Augustin Bizimana and until recently believed to have been on the run, died in 2000, the the UN tribunal said last month.

France has long been known as a hiding place for wanted genocide suspects and French investigators currently have dozens of cases underway.

East Africa Politics News

Uganda Jails Former Presidential Aspirant Three Years For Abusing Judges

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Ivan Samuel Ssebadduka, a former presidential aspirant in Uganda, has been jailed three years by the country’s Supreme Court for using abusive language against the judges, including calling them a “council of fools”.

The 36-year-old was jailed for contempt of court and will spend the next three years in Uganda Government Prison Kitalya.

Ssebadduka had in September filed a petition at the Supreme Court, seeking to stop a requirement for presidential aspirants to collect nomination signatures.

He also wanted the court to suspend the coronavirus safety restrictions issued by the health ministry on the conduct of campaign rallies.

He used the offensive remarks while defending the petition before the judges.

Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi-Dollo was quoted as saying that criticism against judges should be accurate and fair, and should not infringe on the the rights of others.

On November 11, local media reported that Ssebadduka, a week after he was summoned by the Supreme Court to explain why he shouldn’t be found guilty for contempt of court after using abusive language against Judges, followed up with more insults. He described the Justices as incompetent, saying the accusations of contempt of court are baseless because the justices can’t challenge him legally.

“We didn’t offend you or you’re so-called Supreme Court because it is not a court in the first place. It is a Council of fools…” Ssebadduka’s response to the summons read in part.

He added, “It is very unfortunate that we entrust you with the judiciary because you don’t deserve to be judges. A judge must have judgment but it is very unfortunate that you don’t have common sense, which is common”, reads his response in part.

After the ruling, Ssebadduka was immediately handcuffed by security and driven to his next home of three years.

The Supreme court decision in Uganda is final as it is the last appellate court in the country, and unless the justices choose, for some reason, to review their decision or Ssebadduka gets a presidential pardon, he will be expected to serve his entire jail term.

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Ethiopian Military to Begin Final Assault in Tigray – PM Abiy Ahmed

The statement was released via his Twitter page where he said that the 72-hour period granted to the criminal Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) clique to surrender peacefully was over and that the law enforcement campaign had reached its final stage.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced that the military will begin the ‘final phase’ of an offensive in the rebellious northern Tigray region, hours after an ultimatum for Tigray forces to surrender expired.

The PM’s statement was released via his Twitter page, where he said the 72-hour period granted to the criminal Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) clique to surrender peacefully was over, and that the law enforcement campaign had reached its final stage.

Mr. Ahmed was quoted as saying “When the federal government issued the 72-hour surrender time, it had two objectives… it was to demonstrate that the intention of our operations is to enforce the rule of law per the laws of the land. If the TPLF clique chose to peacefully surrender, the campaign would have been finalized with the least amount of damage.”

Ahmed added that the second objective of the 72-hour surrender time was to provide protection for those who understand the criminality of the TPLF clique and to dissociate themselves from the group.

Read also: Tigray Crisis: Ethiopian PM Warns Against International Interference

He noted that within that time, thousands of Tigray Special Forces and militia members had surrendered to the National Defence Force and many young people had refrained from engaging in TPLF’s destructive ambitions.

In his statement, the Prime Minister said that, while the Ethiopian National Defence Forces have been directed to conclude the third and final phase of the operations, great care will be taken to protect innocent civilians from harm.

However, he has warned civilians to stay away from combat zones, saying “we call on the people of Mekelle and its environs to disarm, stay at home, stay away from military targets, and to take all necessary precautions.”

He has also asked the people of Mekelle to play their part towards minimising damages to be sustained, because of a handful of criminal TPLF elements, by exposing and handing over the criminal clique to law enforcement agents.

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East Africa Politics News

World Bank Project On Climate Resilience Bearing Fruits – Zambia’s President Lungu

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Zambia to face tougher austerity as economic woes worsen

Zambian President, Edgar Lungu on Monday expressed satisfaction that a World Bank supported project on climate resilience has started bearing fruits.

The Zambian leader said the innovation brought by the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project will go a long way in improving food security, livelihoods and enable the country to attain its climate change mitigation objectives in line with international climate change commitments.

The Zambian leader was speaking when he inspected a cashew nut farm in eastern Zambia’s Petauke district, one of the initiatives of the project, according to a release from the Ministry of National Development Planning.

The farm is practicing climate-smart agriculture techniques taught by the project.

He said the innovation will improve food security and livelihoods in rural communities while achieving climate change mitigation objectives.

The Zambian leader hoped that more farmers would adopt climate-smart agriculture techniques in order to promote the production of high value crops.

National Project Coordinator, Tasila Banda commended the Zambian government for its commitment to combat climate change through interventions being implemented by the project.

“As an integrated project, the only way to keep these interventions sustainable is to engage the private sector who are helping communities to generate bankable project proposals for enterprises around agriculture value chain, non-timber forest value and eco-tourism,’’ she said.

The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project is an initiative of the government through a loan facility from the World Bank at a total cost of 32.8 million U.S. dollars.

It is meant to support rural communities in the eastern part of the country to allow them to better manage the resources of their landscape to reduce deforestation, improved landscape management, increase environmental and economic benefits.

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