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A United Nations appeals court ordered the suspension of a war crimes trial for elderly Rwandan suspect Felicien Kabuga this week, saying the defendant was unfit to stand trial, a ruling that deals a blow to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Reuters reported.
The judges, belonging to the court created in the wake of the Rwanda war crimes tribunal, also directed a lower trial chamber to assess the conditions for Kabuga’s potential release.
Kabuga, a former businessman and radio station owner, was one of the last suspects sought by the tribunal prosecuting the crimes committed during the genocide that saw ruling Hutu majority extremists kill more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates in 100 days.
French authorities detained Kabuga in 2020 after more than two decades on the run. Prosecutors have accused him of using his Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines to urge Hutus to kill Tutsis with machetes, according to Agence France-Presse.
In June, a lower UN war crimes court found that Kabuga was not healthy enough to stand trial, but noted that he should still undergo a stripped-down proceeding without a verdict.
The defendant is believed to be in his late 80s, but his precise date of birth is disputed.
However, the appeals court dismissed that ruling, saying that the lower tribunal made an “error.”
Still, the higher court acknowledged that the recent verdict “must be disappointing” to victims and survivors of the 1994 massacre who have “waited long to see justice delivered.”