ICTR: Special Disposition Proceedings Commence in the Kabuga Case

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Monday 23 May 2011 commenced conducting special deposition proceedings in the case of Félicien  Kabuga,  who  is  yet  to  be  arrested, in order to preserve the prosecution’s evidence against him. The proceedings are taking place before presiding Judge Vagn Joensen.

The  proceedings follow a successful application by the Prosecution earlier this  year for the taking of the disposition, seeking to safeguard evidence against  Kabuga  and  two  others,  Augustin  Bizimana,  former Minister of Defence  and  Major Protais Mpiranya, who was Commander of the Presidential Guard, pursuant to Rule 71 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

Rule  71  bis  states,  among  others, that “if within a reasonable time, a warrant  of  arrest  has  not  been  executed,  the Prosecutor may submit a request  to  the  President  that  evidence  relating  to the indictment be preserved  for  a  further  trial  by  special  deposition  recorded  in  a proceeding conducted by a single Judge.” The prosecutor fears that evidence against them may be lost or deteriorate due to the passage of time, death and incapacity of unavailability of witnesses later on.

Kabuga, 76, is one of the  ten  fugitives being sought by the Tribunal following confirmation of their indictments. During the events for which he was indicted, Kabuga was a businessman. He was also President of the Comité Provisoire of  the  Fonds de Défencse Nationale (FDN) and President of the Comité  d’initiative  of  Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). Further he  was  related  by  marriage  to the family of President Juvénal Habyarimana.

His  indictment alleges that Kabuga, was also the main financier and backer of  the  main  political  parties  – Mouvement Républicain National pour le Développement  et  la  Démoctratie  (MRND)  and  the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR) – and their militias.

He is  charged  with 11 counts of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity  in  genocide,  direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, rape, persecution, inhumane acts)  and serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II.

Duty Counsel Bahame Nyanduga (Tanzania) who was appointed by the Registrar is representing  the  accused.  An application by Emmanuel Altit, a French lawyer on 2  May 2011, indicating that the family of the accused fugitive had mandated him to represent them and the accused and requesting therefore to  be formally appointed, was on 18 May 2011 dismissed in its entirety and declared moot after the Counsel sent another message on 17 May 2011 stating that he was withdrawing his request.