On Saturday, Felicien Kabuga was arrested near Paris in France according to the BBC. Kabuga’s arrest brings a 25-year manhunt for Rwanda’s most-wanted men to an end. The 84-year old has long held the title of the small African nation’s most wanted man and the complementary U.S. $5 million bounty for his arrest after his role in financing the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
A prominent Hutu businessman at the time of the genocide, Kabuga stands accused of funding millitias who massacred over 800,000 Tutsis in just 100 days. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 still stands as one of the worst acts of genocide the world as seen.
The French Justice Ministry is quoted as saying Kabuga was found in a flat in Asnieres-Sur-Seine using false identification. French authorities are reported by Al Jazeera as saying Kabuga was arrested at 5.30 AM on Saturday morning after being found hiding with his children.
Kabuga’s arrest is a major win not only for Rwandan justice but also for international law enforcement. The French Justice Ministry stated that “Since 1994, Felicien Kabuga, known to have been the financier of Rwanda genocide, had with impunity stayed in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, or Switzerland.” Stephen Rapp, one of the former chief prosecutors at the United Nations Rwanda tribunal was quoted in the New York Times, saying Kabuga had been using multiple passports and identities to evade arrest until now.
The eventual success of international law enforcement in capturing Kabuga helps reinforce the idea that restorative justice, even in historical contexts such as Rwanda is very much possible. It is now likely that Kabuga will face the French judiciary before standing in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Rwandan prosecutors say they have financial records that prove Felicien Kabuga’s financial support and businesses connections were used to acquire thousands of the machetes used in the genocide. According to Reuters, Kabuga also stands accused of a major role in creating the radio and television station Mille Collines that broadcast violent and inflammatory propaganda against the ethnic Tutsi.
His arrest marks a huge win for the Rwandan international tribunal and is considered one of the most significant successes for international justice in decades. Investigators hope that through the trial they may be able to unravel unknown aspects of the genocide such as key planning and finance activities. The arrest of Kabuga shows that justice in Rwanda is not only hopeful, but possible.