Lord Iain Bonomy, a judge for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals that is handling the remaining business of the former international criminal courts for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, approved the transfer of Félicien Kabuga to The Hague Wednesday.
Arrested in May in Paris after two decades as a fugitive, Kabuga is suspected of financially supporting the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In September, a French court ordered his extradition to UN custody in Arusha, Tanzania. In early October, he filed a motion to amend his arrest warrant to require transfer to The Hague instead.
Kabuga argued that his transfer to Arusha would not be in the interests of justice, as it would pose substantial risks to his health due to his age and medical conditions. The claims rely on a medical report submitted by his defense team. Additionally, he claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tanzanian government’s response exacerbated the risks. The prosecution supported Kabuga’s transfer, but argued in favor of an independent medical examination. The Registry, the branch of the Mechanism responsible for medical evaluations, concurred.
The Mechanism’s statute and rules require that the suspects be detained in the host State of the relevant branch. However, they permit the detention of the suspect outside the relevant branch in exceptional circumstances if it is in the interest of justice. Judge Bonomy determined that Kabuga fell within that exception, at least until the Registry is able to perform an evaluation. As the statute and rules require cases be conducted fairly and expeditiously, Kabuga’s proceedings may begin in The Hague.