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France Arrests Rwandan Millionaire Accused of Financing 1994 Genocide

PARIS — One of the most-wanted fugitives accused of financing the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsis was arrested in a Paris suburb early on Saturday, the French police said, ending a decade-long international hunt.

The fugitive, Félicien Kabuga, 84, had been on the run for 23 years since he was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on multiple charges of genocide. He was captured at 7 a.m. at a home rented by a relative in Asniéres-sur-Seine, outside Paris, where he had been staying under a false identity, officials said.

Tribunal officials confirmed the arrest and said Mr. Kabuga was expected to be handed over to United Nations prosecutors. His trial on multiple charges of genocide is expected to take place in the tribunal’s successor court in Arusha, Tanzania.

“Kabuga has always been seen by the victims and survivors as one of the leading figures,” Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the tribunal, said by phone on Saturday from The Hague. “For them, after waiting so many years, his arrest is an important step toward justice.”

Mr. Brammertz said he considered this the most important arrest by an international tribunal since the arrest in 2011 of Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Serbian military leader who was then convicted of having committed genocide during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s.

Mr. Kabuga’s arrest ends a lengthy and often-frustrating search for international investigators who sought to identify his whereabouts in multiple countries. He is believed to have first taken refuge in Kenya, and later passed through Germany, Switzerland and other countries.

But until now, he had managed to escape as the police in different cities responded too slowly or reluctantly to an arrest warrant issued by the tribunal in 1997.

A tribunal official said on Saturday that Mr. Kabuga had been tracked down in France after investigators followed communications among members of his family who, the official said, had acted as his support network.

A millionaire businessman, Mr. Kabuga is charged with financing and organizing the notorious Interahamwe militia, which carried out the brunt of the slaughter, invariably hacking people to death with machetes.

The indictment against him also alleges that his radio station, Radio-Television Mille Collines, incited the killings through broadcasts directing roaming gangs of killers to roadblocks and sites where Tutsi could be located.

The long-awaited arrest is seen as a boost for international criminal justice, which has been under attack from the Trump administration as well as supporters who have been exasperated by the failure to arrest indicted war criminals.

“At a time when international justice is facing many challenges,” Mr. Brammertz said, “this will definitely support those who still believe in international justice.”

Source: NY times

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