Félicien Kabuga, a Rwandan genocide suspect who was apprehended in France earlier this month, denounced the charges against him as “lies” in a French court Wednesday.
An indictment from United Nations prosecutors accuses Kabuga of funding militias made up of Rwanda’s Hutu ethnic majority and providing them with weapons. The militias killed at least 800,000 Tutsi ethnic minorities and anti-genocide Hutus over a period of about three months in 1994.
“All of this is lies. I have not killed any Tutsis. I was working with them,” Kabuga, 84, said through an interpreter when asked if he understood the charges against him, according to Reuters.
Attorneys for Kabuga, who was arrested May 16, told the court he should be given supervised release due to his age and health and called for a DNA test used to identify him to be thrown out, saying it was administered without consent.
The three-judge panel is tasked with deciding whether to transfer Kabuga to an international tribunal based in both The Hague in the Netherlands and Arusha, Tanzania. Kabuga’s attorneys said he is too sick to be transferred to another country and should be tried in France, according to Reuters.
“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,” defense lawyer Laurent Bayon told the court, according to Reuters.
The U.S. State Department called Kabuga’s arrest a “milestone” in a statement earlier in May.
“We applaud the Government of France and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, who is charged with playing a key role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We commend law enforcement officials worldwide who contributed to the arrest,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.