The Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga who was arrested this month from his hideout in France has denounced charges against him, calling them lies.
He appeared in court on Wednesday after more than two decades on the run and told a French court that international charges against him were lies.
French justice ministry said Kabuga is accused of funding militias that massacred about 800,000 people.
The 84-year-old was Rwanda’s most-wanted man and had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.
“Since 1994, Felicien Kabuga, known to have been the financier of Rwanda genocide, had with impunity stayed in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, or Switzerland,” the French ministry statement said.
The UN-established International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) indicted him in 1997 on seven criminal counts including genocide, complicity in genocide and incitement to commit genocide, all in relation to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
When asked if he understood the charges, Kabuga told the court through an interpreter: “All of this is lies. I have not killed any Tutsis. I was working with them.”
The court’s three judges are now expected to decide whether to transfer Kabuga to the international tribunal based in The Hague or Arusha, Tanzania.
Kabuga’s lawyers say he is was too elderly and sick to be transferred and should be tried in France.
Defence lawyer Laurent Bayon told the court that “This court is just saying ‘go and get judged elsewhere but not here’. It wants to hand him over him without consideration for his age and health, which could have irreversible consequences.”
Kabugu was a Hutu businessman accused of funding militias that killed` some 800,000 Tutsis and their moderate Hutu allies over a span of 100 days in 1994.
The two Rwandan ethnic groups, Hutus and Tutsis, fought a civil war in the early 1990s.