French authorities said on Saturday that they had arrested a Rwandan man with a 5-million-dollar bounty on his head and who is among the most wanted for the 1994 genocide in the East African country.
Felicien Kabuga was arrested in Paris as a result of a joint investigation with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at the UN Office of the Prosecutor, the authorities in France said.
Rwandan prosecutors welcomed the arrest and said the country would continue to collaborate with the UN body to ensure the delivery of justice.
French police said they arrested Kabuga in a sophisticated, coordinated operation with simultaneous searches across a number of locations.
“The arrest of Kabuga today is a reminder that those responsible for genocide can be brought to account, even 26 years after their crimes,” IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in a statement.
“Our first thoughts must be with the victims and survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Advocating on their behalf is an immense professional honour for my entire office,” Brammertz added.
Kabuga is among the nine most-wanted fugitives in the 1994 Rwanda genocide which killed more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them.
The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sought Kabuga to answer charges related to conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution, and extermination, all in relation to crimes committed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Kabuga was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997.
Kabuga, who is now aged 85, has been on the run since Aug. 18, 1994, when the Swiss security services let him slip from their grasp, Rwandan government newspaper the New Times, reported.
The Rwandan prosecution said the past financial documents found in Kigali after the genocide indicated that Kabuga used his companies to import vast quantities of machetes from China which were used to slaughter victims.
The wealthy businessman, who was very close to former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, was accused of establishing the hate radio station, RTLM, and training and equipping the Interahamwe militia, among other crimes.
Kabuga’s daughter married Habyarimana’s son.
He is expected to be transferred to the custody of the IRMCT, where he will stand trial.