Paris/Kigali, Sept. 30, (dpa/GNA) – One of the world's most wanted men on Wednesday lost his appeal against being handed over to an international court to be tried for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The Court of Cassation in Paris upheld an order from a lower court that Felicien Kabuga be handed over to a UN tribunal on charges including genocide, persecution and extermination.
Kabuga, born in 1933 or 1935, was a wealthy businessman at the time of the atrocities in which more than 800,000 people were killed.
He had been on the run for more than 20 years when French police tracked him down in May in a Paris suburb where he was living under a false name.
An indictment from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) alleges that he chaired a radio station that helped orchestrate the genocide against the Tutsi ethnic minority.
The notorious Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines allegedly called for the elimination of Tutsis and told listeners who they were and where to find them.
Without that radio station, "I think that I can say, without committing an error, that the genocide would not have happened," Richard Gisagara, a lawyer for the Communaute Rwandaise de France genocide survivors' group, told the press after the lower court ruling in June.
Kabuga is also accused of agreeing with others to create and fund a genocidal militia in the capital, Kigali, and establishing a fund to finance the killings.
The genocide only ended when the opposition Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded the country from neighbouring Uganda and seized control.
Rwandan prosecutors have said in the past that financial documents found in Kigali after the genocide indicated that Kabuga used his companies to import vast quantities of machetes from China that were used to slaughter victims.
According to a French prosecution dossier, Kabuga had "lived with impunity in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya and Switzerland" since the genocide.
Prosecutors have said that investigators lost his trail in 2007.
Kabuga's lawyers had cited his frail health as a reason why his human rights would be jeopardized if he were transferred to the jurisdiction of the International Residual Mechanism on Criminal Tribunals.
The body took over outstanding cases when the ICTR was wound up between 2012 and 2015. It tries its
Rwandan cases in Arusha, in neighbouring Tanzania.
But the Court of Cassation ruled that the lower court had already given proper consideration to the defence arguments about Kabuga's health when it ordered him to be handed over.
No further appeal against the extradition is possible in the French legal system, although his lawyers could take a case to the European Court of Human Rights.
In Kigali, Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of genocide survivors' organization Ibuka, told dpa that Kabuga's pending trial shows that even if much time has passed since the events, bringing perpetrators to justice is still vital.
"The crime of genocide does not get old, but also it means that other suspects still at large will one day face justice," said Ahishakiye. "It gives hope to survivors when they see those who wronged them face justice."