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 deposition, 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 71bis 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 theComité Provisoire of the Fonds de Défense 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.