Leading Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga could be held initially in The Hague rather than Africa due to coronavirus travel restrictions after war crimes investigators requested his transfer into UN custody from France, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Kabuga, 84, was detained in a Paris suburb on Saturday after a quarter century on the run.
He was the most high-profile fugitive of the UN tribunal which tried suspects related to the 1994 massacres in Arusha, Tanzania. It closed years ago, but a successor body still operates there and in the Netherlands.
“We already requested his transfer,” prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in an interview as Kabuga appeared in a Paris court.
It “is definitely an option” for a first legal phase to be conducted in The Hague, Brammertz said.
Kabuga faces five counts of genocide for having allegedly been one of the chief financiers of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, suspected of bankrolling and arming the militias that slaughtered over a million Tutsis.
He also allegedly funded a radio station known for spreading hate speech, the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, the indictment said.
Travel to Africa could be difficult amid lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19, but Kabuga could be held at a UN detention facility in the Netherlands where there are also courtrooms used to hold and prosecute key suspects of the Yugoslav wars.