Home Africa Félicien Kabuga: From poverty to alleged financier of the Rwandan genocide

Félicien Kabuga: From poverty to alleged financier of the Rwandan genocide


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Félicien Kabuga, who was arrested Saturday in a Paris suburb, rose from poverty to become one of Rwanda's richest men before allegedly using his wealth to fund the country's 1994 genocide.


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Kabuga's money and connections also helped him avoid arrest for more than 20 years as he moved from Rwanda to Switzerland, the former Zaire, and Kenya.

Charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with "genocide", "complicity in genocide", and "direct and public incitement to commit genocide", Kabuga, 84, was living under a false identity outside Paris and people close to him said he had died.

He was one of the world's most-wanted fugitives and often referred to as the person who financed three months of Rwandan massacres from April to June, 1994 in which 800,000 people were killed.

Kabuga's parents were modest farmers and his first jobs included peddling items door to door and selling cigarettes and used clothing in a market in his native Byumba region in northern Rwanda.

A hard and determined worker, Kabuga then moved to Kigali where he opened several shops.

One of the richest men in Rwanda

According to French press reports, he owned a tea plantation, a mill, and real estate, including apartments and warehouses.

By 1994 he was said to be one of the richest men in Rwanda and if farmers in remote villages saved up money, they were often nicknamed "Kabuga".

In 1993, one of his daughters married the oldest son of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose assassination triggered the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Another daughter married Augustin Ngirabatware, the country's planning minister who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the bloodshed.

Kabuga was also charged by the ICTR with two lesser but related genocide charges.

He headed the National Defence Fund, to which he and other businessmen contributed, and which allegedly bought machetes and uniforms for the army and Interahamwe Hutu militia.

"In his position of authority, Felicien Kabuga between April and June 1994 contributed to the interahamwe's killing and harming of persons identified as Tutsis by organising meetings … to raise funds to purchase arms," the ICTR indictment read.

Jean Damascene Bizimana, executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide, told AFP that Kabuga had funded "tonnes of machetes and grenades which were imported and distributed across the country as weapRead More – Source