Last week in The Hague it was determined that Felicien Kabuga, the final major suspect to stand trial for the 1994 Rwandan genocide before a U.N. court, was unfit to stand trial after a team of doctors diagnosed the almost 90 year old with dementia. Kabuga was arrested in Paris in 2020 after almost 20 years on the run. The former businessman is accused of funding the Hutu Interhamwe militia and also had a hand in Radio-Television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM).
The Interhamwe are a paramilitary group originally founded in Rwanda in 1990 and are responsible for a majority of the violence that took place in 1994. RTLM also played a role in the genocide when its presenters encouraged violence by Hutus against the Tutsis in the days leading up to the genocide.
While the court’s decision that Kabuga was unfit to stand trial didn’t come as a major shock to anyone, what did surprise us, and many other onlookers, is the alternative to a regular trial agreed by the judges. The prosecution had suggested a trial in which Kabuga himself does not have to be present, but the facts will be presented similar to what the UK and many other countries call a ‘trial of the facts’. In the suggested situation there will be no conviction or sentence handed down. So, like many, we were left asking what all of this means?
To try to get to the bottom of everything we brought in historian of international criminal trials Lucy Gaynor. But one expert wasn’t enough to untangle everything in this web so Janet and Stephanie got in contact with no fewer than six members of the international justice community to get the latest reactions to this perplexing proposal.
And for recommendations this week Lucy suggested we check out the Tokyo Trial miniseries on Netflix which shockinglu looks at the Tokyo Trials which took place after World War II. While that doesn’t really give Lucy a break from her usual work, she also suggested getting stuck into the tennis, and with Roland Garros having just finished and Wimbledon just around the corner, we couldn’t agree more.
This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.