Félicien Kabuga

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Félicien Kabuga
Born (1933-03-01) 1 March 1933 (age 88)
Muning, Mukarange, Byumba, Ruanda-Urundi
Spouse(s)Josephine Mukazitoni
Criminal charge11 counts involving genocide
(by Rwanda), 5 counts
(by ICTR)[1]
Date apprehended
16 May 2020
Imprisoned atInternational Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, The Hague

Félicien Kabuga (born 1 March 1933)[a] is a Rwandan businessman and génocidaire who played a major role in the run-up to the Rwandan genocide. A multimillionaire,[4] he was closely connected to dictator Juvénal Habyarimana's Hutu nationalist MRND party and the Akazu, an informal group of Hutu extremists who helped lead the Rwandan genocide.[5]

Kabuga is noted for his role as the primary[6] financier of Hutu extremist media outlets, such as the RTLM radio station and Kangura magazine, which advocated for the killing of the Tutsi minority.[5][7] Kabuga helped fund the mass importation of 500,000 machetes in preparation for genocide between January 1993 to March 1994.

In 2020, Kabuga was captured by the French police in Greater Paris at the age of 87 after 26 years as a fugitive.[8] He is currently in custody of the IRMCT branch in The Hague and is set to be tried for crimes against humanity.[9]

Early life[edit]

Kabuga was born in Munig, in the commune of Mukarange, prefecture of Byumba, present-day Rwanda.[6] Kabuga amassed his wealth by owning tea farms in northern Rwanda, among other business ventures.[5]

In 1993, at an RTLM fundraising meeting organised by the MRND, Félicien Kabuga allegedly publicly defined the purpose of RTLM as the defence of Hutu Power.[10] During the ICTR's so-called "media trial", former RTLM presenter Georges Ruggiu named Kabuga as the "Chairman Director-general" of the station, with duties such as "presiding over RTLM" and "representing RTLM."[11]

From January 1993 to March 1994, a total of 500,000 machetes were imported into Rwanda, statistically one for every three adult Hutus in the country. Kabuga has been named as one of the main importers of these machetes.[5][12]

Indictment by ICTR[edit]

On 29 August 1998, the prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Carla Del Ponte, indicted Kabuga. In the amended indictment dated 1 October 2004, prosecutor Hassan Jallow charged Kabuga with:

Life as a fugitive[edit]

Kabuga fled Rwanda in 1994 as it was being conquered by the Rwandan Patriotic Front. He first attempted to enter Switzerland, but was ordered to leave. He went to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was later believed to be residing in Nairobi, Kenya.

In September 1995, before any indictment and before he was named as a suspected planner of the genocide, Kabuga registered and ran a business, Nshikabem Agency, in Nairobi.[13][14]

In 2003, a young Kenyan businessman helping American agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation track down Kabuga was murdered.[15]

In a speech given on 28 August 2006 during his visit to Kenya, then-US Senator Barack Obama accused Kenya of "allowing [Kabuga] to purchase safe haven."[16] The Kenyan government called the allegation "an insult to the people of this country."[17]

According to June 2008 reports by a Norwegian-based blogger calling himself African Press International (API), Kabuga was in hiding in Oslo, and might be seeking to turn himself in. Authorities dismissed this claim as a hoax.[18][19]

The United States State Department offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to Kabuga's arrest.[20] On June 14, 2008, Kenya's KTN News Network reported that Kabuga had been arrested by the day before and was being held at Gigiri Police Station in Nairobi. Later the suspect was found to be a local university lecturer, not Kabuga, and released. It was earlier suspected that Kabuga resided in Kenya and was to be running businesses and enjoying protection from either the Kenyan government or some influential figures within the country.[21]


On 16 May 2020, Kabuga, aged 87, was captured in Asnières-sur-Seine, near Paris, France, after 26 years as a fugitive. French authorities have expressed desire to see him tried for crimes against humanity committed against the Tutsis of Rwanda. He was arrested by French police as the result of a joint investigation with the IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor,[8] assisted by Interpol, members of the International Bounty Hunter Union and law enforcement agencies in Rwanda, Belgium, and the United States.[20] On 27 May, Kabuga denied the charges, but was denied bail.[22]

On 3 June and then on 30 September 2020 French justice system approved the handover of Kabuga to the IRMCT.[23][24] On 26 October 2020, he was transferred from France to the custody of the IRMCT branch in The Hague.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Kabuga is married to Josephine Mukazitoni and has 11 children.[25] Two of his daughters are married to two of Juvénal Habyarimana's sons.[1][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kabuga's birth date was previously believed to be 19 July 1935,[2] but he stated the 1 March 1933 date during a 2020 court appearance.[3]


  1. ^ a b Amended Indictment Case No. ICTR-98-44B-I; The Prosecutor against Félicien Kabuga, 1 October 2004: [1] PDF 17 March 2011 - Amended Indictment
  2. ^ Gras, Romain (4 June 2020). "Rwanda: Félicien Kabuga one step closer to a trial in Arusha". The Africa Report. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  3. ^ Salaün, Tangi; van den Berg, Stephanie (20 May 2020). "Rwanda's most-wanted genocide suspect appears before French court". Reuters. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  4. ^ How the mighty are falling, The Economist, 5 July 2007. Accessed online 17 July 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d "YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "MICT-13-38". United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Felicien Kabuga - TRIAL International". TRIAL International. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Mechanism fugitive Félicien Kabuga arrested today" (Press release). International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. 16 May 2020. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga arrives in The Hague to face trial". Deutsche Welle. Associated Press, Agence France-Presse. 26 October 2020. Archived from the original on 4 November 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  10. ^ ICTR Case No. 99-52-T; The Prosecutor against Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, Amended Indictment, pg. 19, 6.4; Tribunal Pénal International pour le Rwanda; International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda PDF 5-12-2003
  12. ^ Meredith, Martin (2006). The State of Africa, p. 501. Simon & Schuster UK Ltd., London. ISBN 978-0-7432-3222-7.
  13. ^ "International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda: Delayed Justice". International Crisis Group. 7 June 2001. p. 16n31.
  14. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  15. ^ "How hit squad killed man who laid trap for Kabuga". Daily Nation. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  16. ^ Mathenge, Oliver (3 November 2008). "Tough speech that kicked off diplomatic feud". The Daily Nation.
  18. ^ "Rwandan war criminal reportedly in Oslo". Aftenposten. 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008.
  19. ^ "- Etterlyst krigsforbryter oppholder seg i Norge". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 1 June 2008.
  20. ^ a b Dwyer, Colin (16 May 2020). "Most infamous fugitive of Rwanda Genocide captured after 26 year run". NPR. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020.
  21. ^ Nyawo, James (4 August 2011). "Risking Irrelevance: The Threat of Impunity to the African Union". JURIST. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Rwandan Felicien Kabuga calls genocide charges 'lies'". Deutsche Welle. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Reuters. 27 May 2020. Archived from the original on 4 November 2002. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  23. ^ "French Court approves Felicien Kabuga's extradition". Voice of Nigeria.[dead link]
  24. ^ "French court approves transfer of Rwandan genocide suspect". ABC News. Associated Press. 3 June 2020. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020.
  25. ^ Irish, John (30 May 2020). Brown, Tom (ed.). "Children of Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga fear for father's life". Reuters. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  26. ^ US Goes To Social Media Hunting For Hardcore Genocide Fugitives chronicles.rw, retrieved 12 August 2019

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