UN court rules elderly Rwandan genocide suspect can no longer “significantly participate” in trial

(CNN) — A UN war crimes tribunal has ruled that Rwandan genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga, 88, is no longer able to “significantly participate” in his trial, suggesting an “alternative” legal procedure with no possibility of conviction.

“The trial chamber considers that Mr. Kabuga is no longer able to participate meaningfully in his trial,” the Hague-based International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) said in an order published this Tuesday.

“In reaching this decision, the Trial Chamber is aware that Mr. Kabuga was recovering from intercurrent illnesses when he was last examined by the experts, and that this circumstance may have had some minor effect on his examinations.” .

The court also said its conclusion was based on information obtained from medical records and attending personnel suggesting “a significant decline in Kabuga’s ability to care for himself.”

“The Trial Chamber further accepts the opinion of the experts that, given the nature of Mr. Kabuga’s illness, it is unlikely that he faked it,” the order said.

The court suggested that since Kabuga is unlikely to regain physical fitness, judges should adopt an “alternative procedure that resembles as much as possible a trial, but without the possibility of a conviction.”

“Many of the charges against Mr. Kabuga depend on his state of mind,” the court’s decision reads, adding that “limiting the alternative proceeding to a finding of fact would deny Mr. Kabuga important lines of defense and opportunities for acquittal.”

“In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office accepted that it be required to prove mens reaas well as actus reusand to do so beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Kabuga’s trial began last September, making him one of the latest fugitives charged with issuing hate propaganda and arming militias in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

His case was being tried before the IRMCT for what prosecutors say was his “substantial” contribution to the genocide against ethnic Tutsi in Rwanda.

25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda 3:30

Prosecutors claim that Kabuga’s radio station, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), broadcast genocidal propaganda and accuse it of arming the “Interahamwe” militia.

“The charges against Kabuga reflect his status as a well-connected and wealthy person,” prosecutor Rashid S. Rashid said in his opening statement last September.

He said the case reflects Kabuga’s “individual responsibility for the grave crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.”

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Written by Editor TLN

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