Félicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, must be promptly released following a court’s decision declaring him unfit for trial in The Hague, according to UN appeals judges’ ruling on Monday.
A special war crimes tribunal made a legal mistake in June when it opted for a simplified trial procedure for Félicien Kabuga, despite his health condition, the judges stated. They have directed the court to swiftly address the issue of Mr. Kabuga’s pre-trial detention.
The former businessman, reported as 88 by authorities but claiming to be 90, stands accused of establishing and funding a radio station that incited hatred and influenced the perpetrators who carried out the mass killing of around 800,000 individuals in 1994.
The Court of Appeal judges have taken the step of referring the case back to the Trial Chamber, urging it to declare an indefinite postponement of the proceedings due to Mr. Kabuga’s inability to stand trial. Despite understanding that this decision might disappoint the victims and survivors of the 1994 genocide, who have been awaiting justice for an extended period, the ruling emphasises that fairness can only be achieved through unbiased trials that uphold the rights of the accused.
The judges emphasised that medical experts determined in June that Mr. Kabuga was grappling with “severe dementia”.
Arrested in Paris in 2020 after evading capture for two decades, the accused, who relies on a wheelchair, faced trial in September and entered a plea of not guilty.
As per the UN’s records, the Rwandan genocide led to the loss of over 800,000 lives, predominantly Tutsis who were systematically eradicated between April and July 1994.