After more than two decades on the run, one of the world’s most wanted men, 84-year-old Felicien Kabuga, was arrested on May 16 by the French Police near Paris.
Kabuga was a key figure in the Rwandan genocide, which began on April 7, 1994, one day after a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutus, was shot down, with all on board killed. Hutu extremists accused a Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, of being behind the attack and immediately began a campaign of mass killings of members of the Tutsi and Twa ethnic groups, as well as moderate Hutus.
The slaughter was thoroughly planned and well-organized. Militias were given hit lists of Tutsi and murdered many of their victims with machetes in acts of appalling brutality. By the time the genocide ended on July 15, 1994, some 800,000 Rwandans had been murdered, including about 70 percent of the country's Tutsi population.
Felicien Kabuga, one of the country’s wealthiest men and founder of Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines, had been a member of President Habyarimana’s inner circle. He is accused of financing and helping to plan the genocidal killings, importing large quantities of weapons, and directing the Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines, which helped incite the genocide.
For these and other crimes, Kabuga was indicted in 1997 by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, and conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination. The United States offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to Kabuga’s arrest.
“We applaud the Government of France and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the arrest of Félicien Kabuga,” said U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a written statement. “We commend law enforcement officials worldwide who contributed to the arrest. This is a milestone for international justice, and a message to all fugitives indicted for genocide that they will be brought to justice. We hope this arrest brings the victims and their families some peace.”
The United States continues to offer rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of the remaining seven Rwandans wanted by the International Tribunal for their roles in the genocide: Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya, Fulgence Kayishema, Aloys Ndimbati, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Charles Sikubwabo, and Charles Ryandikayo. If you have any information on their whereabouts, you can contact the War Crimes Rewards Program via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via WhatsApp at +1-202-975-5468.