The trial of one of many final fugitives accused of broadcasting hateful propaganda and arming militias within the 1994 Rwanda genocide has opened at a United Nations court docket in The Hague.
Earlier than opening statements, judges mentioned 87-year-old Félicien Kabuga had refused to attend however dominated that the trial would go forward.
He’s being tried earlier than the Worldwide Residual Mechanism for Legal Tribunals (IRMCT) for what prosecutors say is his “substantial” contributions to the genocide towards the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Prosecutors say Kabuga’s radio station Radio Tv Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) broadcast genocidal propaganda and accuse him of arming the dreaded Interahamwe militia.
“The fees towards Kabuga replicate his standing as a rich and well-connected insider,” prosecutor Rashid S. Rashid mentioned in his opening assertion.
He mentioned the case displays Kabuga’s “particular person duty for critical crimes dedicated through the 1994 Rwanda genocide.”
Kabuga was arrested in Might 2020 at a modest condominium in Paris the place he was dwelling beneath an assumed identify after being on the run for 26 years.
As president of RTLM, he had been certainly one of Rwanda’s wealthiest and most influential males among the many Hutu elite.
IRMCT prosecutors say he didn’t wield a machete or choose up a microphone to broadcast hate however his conduct since 1992 pointed to a constant anti-Tutsi animus.
They informed judges that an estimated 800,000 individuals had been killed in simply 100 days.
Kabuga plead not responsible when he first appeared earlier than the tribunal in November 2020.
By means of a press release launched by his son on Wednesday, Kabuga mentioned he didn’t belief his lawyer however claimed that the court docket had denied his requests to select one other one.
“I’m due to this fact pressured to be represented by a lawyer in whom I don’t belief and prevented from accessing my property to retain the lawyer of selection,” the assertion says.
Kabuga faces a most sentence of life imprisonment if convicted. His attorneys have beforehand argued that he was too sick to be tried however judges and court-appointed medical doctors disagreed.
His indictment says he’s charged with “genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and persecution on political grounds, extermination, and homicide as crimes towards humanity, dedicated in Rwanda in 1994.”