A UN court has ruled that ageing Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga is unfit to stand trial, calling instead for an “alternative” legal procedure that would not end in a conviction.
The Hague-based International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals said in an order late Tuesday that it “finds… Mr Felicien Kabuga is unfit to participate meaningfully in his trial and is very unlikely to regain fitness in the future.”
Judges said they wanted to “adopt an alternative finding procedure that resembles a trial as closely as possible, but without the possibility of a conviction.”
This would “ensure respect for his rights” at the same time as achieving the goals of the court, they said.
One judge gave a dissenting opinion.
Kabuga, 90, went on trial in September last year, with prosecutors accusing him of setting up hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to kill rival Tutsis and supplying death squads with machetes.
The businessman refused to appear in court or appear remotely at the start of his trial and has subsequently followed proceedings via video-link from a wheelchair at the court’s detention centre.
The court put the trial on hold in March over health concerns.
Kabuga was arrested in Paris in 2020 after decades on the run and sent for trial in The Hague.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of being involved in an infamous Hutu radical radio station urging people to kill Tutsi “cockroaches” during the 1994 slaughter in which 800,000 people died.
He also denied supplying machetes and otherwise supporting the murderous Interahamwe Hutu militia.
Kabuga is one of the last Rwandan genocide suspects to face justice, with 62 convicted by the tribunal so far.
Another suspect, Fulgence Kayishema, appeared before a court in the South African city of Cape Town in May after being arrested following 22 years on the run.