UN judge orders Rwandan genocide suspect sent to The Hague

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An 87-year-old Rwandan genocide suspect being held in France will be sent temporarily to a United Nations court in the Netherlands for a medical assessment amid concerns about his health and the coronavirus pandemic, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Félicien Kabuga, one of the most wanted fugitives in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, was arrested outside Paris in May after 25 years on the run. He faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for allegedly equipping militias that killed more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them.

Kabuga has denied involvement in the genocide.

A court in Paris approved Kabuga’s extradition to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in Arusha, Tanzania. But his French lawyer, citing fears that Kabuga could contract COVID-19 in Tanzania and other health issues, argued that the suspect should instead be sent to the Hague detention unit of the mechanism.

The mechanism, which deals with cases remaining from now-closed U.N. tribunals that prosecuted atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the Rwandan genocide, has branches in The Hague and Arusha.

In a written ruling, mechanism judge Iain Bonomy said he concluded based on medical documentation that “transfer to the Hague Branch of the Mechanism will pose far less risk to Kabuga than transfer to Arusha.”

In The Hague, Kabuga’s health will be assessed to establish if he is fit enough to be flown at a later date to Arusha to stand trial there.

It was not immediately clear when Kabuga would be transferred to The Hague.

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