Elderly Rwandan genocide suspect should not face trial, UN judges say

By Stephanie van den Berg and Charlotte Van Campenhout

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – UN appeals judges on Monday ordered the war crimes trial for elderly Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga indefinitely suspended because he has dementia, rejecting plans for an alternative slimmed-down procedure.

The judges, who are part of the court that succeeded the Rwanda war crimes tribunal, also ordered a lower trial chamber to rapidly evaluate under what circumstances Kabuga could be released. His lawyer has previously said his client should be freed.

The former businessman and radio station owner was one of the last suspects sought by the tribunal prosecuting crimes in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when ruling Hutu majority extremists killed more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates in 100 days.

Kabuga is in his late 80s, though his precise date of birth is disputed. He was arrested in France in 2020 after more than 20 years on the run.

In June, judges at a U.N. war crimes court ruled Kabuga unfit to stand trial but said alternative procedures should take place.

Prosecutors had argued halting the trial would be unfair to the victims and said Kabuga’s own actions put him in the position of facing trial at an advanced age with diminished capacity.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)