Félicien Kabuga, one of the most wanted suspects in the Rwandan genocide that left 800,000 people dead, has been arrested near Paris, the French justice ministry has announced.
Mr Kabuga was detained by gendarmes in Asnières-Sur-Seine, where he had been living under a false identity.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has charged the 84-year-old with genocide and crimes against humanity.
He is alleged to have been the main financier of the ethnic Hutu extremists who slaughtered 800,000 people in 1994.
They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents.
The United States had offered a reward of $5m (£4.1m) for information leading to Mr Kabuga’s arrest.
“The arrest of Félicien Kabuga today is a reminder that those responsible for genocide can be brought to account, even 26 years after their crimes,” Serge Brammertz, The chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at The Hague said in a statement.
“For international justice, Kabuga’s arrest demonstrates that we can succeed when we have the international community’s support,” he added.
Mr Brammertz expressed his appreciation to France, but said essential contributions had also been made by Rwanda, Belgium, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the US, Europol and Interpol.
Following completion of appropriate procedures under French law, Mr Kabuga is expected to be transferred to the custody of the IRMCT, where he will stand trial.
Mr Kabuga was indicted in 1997 on seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination.
The US has said Mr Kabuga was co-founder and chairman of the Fonds de Défense Nationale (FDN), through which he is alleged to have provided funds to the interim Rwandan government for the purposes of executing the 1994 genocide.
He is also alleged to have given logistical support to militiamen who carried out the slaughter by issuing them weapons and uniforms and by providing them transport.
How the Rwandan Genocide Happened
Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days.
Most of the dead were Tutsis – and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus.
The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.
After the crash, a campaign of violence spread from the capital throughout the country.
In Kigali, the presidential guard immediately initiated a campaign of retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately, the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began.
Within hours, recruits were dispatched all over the country to carry out a wave of slaughter.
The early organisers included military officials, politicians and businessmen, but soon many others joined in the mayhem.
Organised gangs of government soldiers and militias hacked their way through the Tutsi population with machetes, or blew them up in churches where they had taken refuge.
The scale and brutality of the massacre caused shock worldwide, but no country intervened to forcefully stop the killings.
An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, about 70% of the country’s Tutsi population. Sexual violence was rife, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 women raped during the genocide.
Today, Rwanda has two public holidays to mourn the genocide, and denial or historical revisionism of the genocide is a criminal offence.
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