Félicien Kabuga was born in 1935 in Muniga, in the commune of Mukarange, prefecture of Byumba, Rwanda. Called « the financier of the genocide », he was an extremely rich businessman who was closely allied to the family of President Habyarimana. He took part in the creation of the National Defence Fund’s Acting Committee («Comité Provisoire du Fonds de Défense Nationale – FDN») of which he became President, as well as becoming President of the RTLM’s Ruling Committee.
He was also the main financial contributor to and silent partner of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development («Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement – MRND», the presidential party), of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic («CDR»), an extremist Hutu party inside the MRND (openly and fiercely opposed to the Tutsis) and of their militias. In this capacity, he wielded considerable influence on these organizations and exercised authority over their members, including the Interahamwe (an extremist Hutu militia).
From the end of 1990 to July 1994, Kabuga was said to have played a role in the preparation of a plan aimed at the extermination of the Tutsis. Amongst other elements, this plan in particular encouraged hatred and ethnic violence against the Tutsis, trained and armed the militia, and drafted lists of people to be murdered. Félicien Kabuga was said to have organized, ordered and participated in mass murders in the implementation of this plan.
From April to July 1994, as a direct consequence of their officially held positions, pronouncements made and orders they issued, the members of the Interim Government and Kabuga exercised control over the local authorities and the Interahamwe . As from April 6,1994, these authorities and militia, together with the army, ordered and participated in mass murders against Tutsis and moderate Hutus throughout Rwanda. Kabuga was aware of these massacres but did not use his authority to intervene and put a stop to them.
The use of communication channels such as the newspaper Kangura and the RTLM created and directed by Kabuga, and others, helped to indoctrinate the Rwandan people with an extremist Hutu ideology based on hatred and ethnic violence. During a meeting organized to collect funds for the RTLM, Kabuga declared that RTLM should become the official radio of «Hutu Power». In November 1993 and February 1994, he was convened by the Information Ministry who urged him to stop the distribution of messages aiming at inciting inter-racial hatred but Kabuga is said to have held to his position concerning the programs broadcast by the RTLM.
Before and during the Rwandan genocide, Kabuga, and others, are said to have participated in the provision of weapons to the militia and certain well chosen members of the civilian population with the aim of exterminating the Tutsi people and eliminating their accomplices.
From 1992, Kabuga – through his company ETS – was reported to have bought massive stocks of machetes, hoes and other farm tools, in the belief that they would be used as weapons during the massacres. In addition, Kabuga was said to have provided logistical assistance to the Interahamwe by supplying weapons and uniforms and by providing transport in his company owned vehicles.
In March 1994, in relation to the above, Kabuga was reported to have imported 50’000 machetes from Kenya.
UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda) was created in order to establish in a peaceful manner, the institutions provided for by the Arusha Agreements. This military force however was perceived to be an obstacle by certain members of the extremist political classes. Thus, leaders from these groups adopted a strategy of provocation aimed at the Belgian military who were the UNAMIR’s most efficient and well equipped contingent, with the aim being to force them to withdraw. With this in mind, a campaign of anti-Belgian propaganda was put in place, through the media such as RTLM, created and directed by Kabuga, and the newspaper Kangura .
On 25 April 1994, in the prefecture of Gisenyi, Kabuga, and others, are reported to have reached an agreement to create the National Defence Fund in order to provide assistance to the Interim Government to help fight against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This fund was created in order to buy weapons, vehicles and uniforms for the Interahamwe and the army throughout the country. Kabuga was appointed as President of the National Defence Fund’s Acting Committee and had signatory power over the fund’s bank accounts. On 20 May 1994, Kabuga was reported to have informed the Interim Government about the existence of this fund and to have counselled the government on how to manage and to use it.
In June 1994, Kabuga and others were said to have held a meeting in Gisenyi. During this meeting, members from MRND were reported to have made a list of Tutsis and moderate Hutus who had come from other prefectures to seek refuge in Gisenyi. From this they are reported to have drafted a list of persons to be eliminated which was subsequently given to the Interahamwe.
In June 1994, confronted with the advance of the troops of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front,- an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagamé), Kabuga fled Rwanda. He first reached Switzerland but on receiving an order to leave this country, he then went to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After this, he was said to have taken residence in Nairobi, Kenya. As of today’s date he has still not been arrested and has been successful in avoiding all attempts to arrest him.