Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga has entered a plea of “not guilty” on Wednesday as he made his first appearance at a U.N. court.
Kebuga spent a quarter of a century on the run. In May, he was finally arrested in France before being transferred to a United Nations detention center in The Hague on Oct. 26.
Kabuga, 85, did not respond to questions from judges.
“We have talked about this with Mr Kabuga before the hearing and he does not wish to answer in these conditions. I would appreciate it if you would consider his non-response as a plea of not guilty,” lawyer Emmanuel Altit told the court.
Kabuga was indicted in 1997 on seven counts of Genocide, complicity in Genocide, direct and public incitement to commit Genocide, attempt to commit Genocide, conspiracy to commit Genocide, persecution and extermination.
Prosecutors allege that Kabuga was one of the main benefactors of the genocide. Kabuga’s RTLM radio station incited the attacks in which ethnic Hutu extremists slaughtered about 800,000 Rwandans. Tutsis were hacked to death with machetes (allegedly provided by Kabuga), burned alive, or shot.
Kabuga’s surviving victims are eager for him to face justice.
Egide Mutabazi, 44, a survivor of the massacres against the Tutsi in the present Winteko Sector of Rusizi District, told The New Times: “What I want is just justice to be given, both to him as a suspect, but most importantly, to survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi.
“We have waited a long time for Kabuga to be arrested and judged. We can’t wait to see the outcome of this important trial.”
Kabuga denies all charges against him.