Arusha, February 11, 2010 (FH) - With only ten months to go before the end of its mandate, set for December 31 by the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) still has not apprehended its most wanted fugitive, the alleged "financier of the genocide" Felicien Kabuga.

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The seventy-year-old businessman was indicted by the ICTR in 1998 for conspiracy to commit genocide and genocide. He is accused of having imported the machetes which were used to massacre Tutsis.

An international arrest warrant was issued against him in 1999. However, according to ICTR Chief Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Kabuga is still running his businesses in Kenya where he escaped several attempts by the Kenyan police to arrest him.

Stephen Rapp, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, reiterated on February 9 to Hirondelle News Agency earlier claims that the alleged "financier of the genocide" was still living in Kenya.

In 2002, the United States launched an important media campaign in the former British colony aiming at Kabuga's arrest. A reward of up to 5 million dollars was offered for information leading to his capture but proved ineffective.

Felicien Kabuga is rich enough to buy protection from authorities in Kenya and all over Africa, analysts believe.

A former street peddler in Byumba (North), where he originates from, Kabuga built the biggest fortune in Rwanda under Juvénal Habyarimana's regime.

He grew famous to the extent that wealthier peasants in Rwandan villages were nicknamed "Kabugas". A tale spread all over the country to explain the incredible success of the illiterate peddler, also a well-known animist: the cult he devoted to his ancestors' spirits was supposed to have been the wellspring of his prosperity.

According to this "Tale of the Thousand Hills", despite owning the fanciest buildings in Rwanda, Kabuga was still sleeping on a mud floor, in a hut, to comply with the wishes of his ancestors.

Far from despising the well-educated elite of Rwanda, Felicien Kabuga was always trying to surround himself with learned scholars and to make friends at the higher echelons of the administration. In 1993, he undoubtedly succeeded to gel with the ruling class when one of his daughters married the elder son of Juvénal Habyarimana.

A member of the then ruling party MRND, Felicien Kabuga also chaired the founding committee - Comité d'initiative - of the extremist RTLM radio.

In June 1994, in anticipation of the Rwandan Armed Forces' defeat, Felicien Kabuga fled to Switzerland. Ordered to leave the country, he then moved to Kinshasa before, allegedly, settling in Nairobi (Kenya).


© Hirondelle News Agency