I don’t know if Rwanda has formerly asked to try its longtime fugitive, Felician Kabuga, who was recently arrested in the outskirts of Paris. Kabuga’s name evokes anger, abhorrence, trauma, brutality, monstrosity, and vengeance. His deeds destroyed many lives directly and indirectly. While many criminals of Kabuga’s magnitude and nature faced their death violently, the same way they or their agents and gung-hos violently did to many innocent people, some dirty netherworld kept Kabuga buoyant in his criminality. Kabuga will not meet his end with the same violence thanks to the instruments charged with delivering justice to him internationally or in Rwanda.
Kabuga evaded justice for a long time. He spent many years of evanescence in comfort while his surviving victims suffered inexplicable suffering and trauma. Those who enabled him to rent an apartment in Paris or anywhere, travel or evade justice must be added to the charge sheet as appurtenances to his offences. His co-conspirators must be exposed in order for justice to catch up with them as well.
The trial of Kabuga must be based on the rationale of where the crime was committed or secundum justttiam, ubi grande peaculum factum est. In the Nuremburg trials, Nazi criminals were tried in the country where the crime was committed. While Nuremberg trials didn’t have a precedent, The Rwandan genocide, just as any holocaust, has one on the Nuremberg trials. Kabuga too must be tried in Rwanda.
I strongly beseech the international community to allow Rwanda to legally try Kabuga. That’s because his sacrilegious and heinous crimes against humanity Kabuga were committed in Rwanda. Trial elsewhere will mean justice will not have been deservedly served. Rwandans have the right to hear Kabuga’s story so that they can corroborate it with what they know. Furthermore, Kabuga needs to be given an opportunity to apologise to millions of his victims whose loved ones he robbed. Arguably, Rwanda’s traditional Gaaca justice system stands as a very competent court to try Kabuga provided that, as noted above, Rwanda doesn’t have death sentence.
First, as noted above, the crime Kabuga’s charged with was committed in and against Rwanda, which’s a locus in quo. Thus, Rwanda thereof qualifies to try this desperado. Second, much, if not the entire evidence is still in Rwanda. Thank God that Rwanda preserved this evidence. Third, trying Kabuga in Rwanda will avert the financial and logistic bedlam of transporting witnesses to and from the location other than Rwanda where Kabuga’s going to be tried. Fourth, seeing is believing. Kabuga’s victims deserve the right to witness his trial so that they can have the opportunity to hear what he has to say if he decides to, after the court grants it. Fifth, Rwanda has what it takes to try Kabuga just like any other criminals implicated in this sacrilegious act that left the world shocked about how a human could do what Kabuga and his co did to other humans. Sixth, allowing and enabling Rwanda to try Kabuga won’t only do justice to his victims and their families but also honour a grief-stricken nation that has a lot to learn from this crime.
Learning Kabuga’s criminality won’t only console his victims but also enable the world to know his netherworld in order to be able to thwart the likes whenever and wherever there are the signs of recidivism. It will also help academics to study the whole thing in order to find solutions on how to predict and prevent it. Learning Kabuga’s netherworld, networks and sources of means will add up to the literature of how to deal with such lunacy. This is very important for reconciliation in conflict resolution. Knowing how Kabuga committed the crime[s] and evaded justice will send a strong signal to those who still think they can replicate what Kabuga heartlessly did.
Allowing Rwanda to try Kabuga will be the most noble act of socially redressing it for the total disappointment the international community intentionally or otherwise displayed during the commission of the crime whereby Rwanda was abandoned at the hour of need up until the RPF came to save it from its predators who forlornly happened to be brainwashed Rwandans.
In a nutshell, Kabuga needs to pay for his deeds. This is the nature of justice and law. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, but Kabuga is lucky that Rwanda doesn’t have capital punishment. It will be a lesson that innocent blood cannot be shed in vain. Justice and truth may be delayed but not killed. He who daydreams that he/she can get away with murder must think twice. We need to support Rwanda to see to it that Kabuga and the likes are tried in Rwanda as the act of honouring the victims and the country. As noted above, by so doing, the victims and the nation might come to the closure of the hardest period of their lives ready to open a new page. And Kabuga needs to see with his eyes the country he destroyed and how it’s been rebuilt and developed.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL) and author of over 20 books among which are Africa Reunite or Perish, 'Is It Global War on Terrorism' or Global War over Terra Africana? How Africa Developed Europe and contributed chapters in scholarly works.