Gillian Mezey, a professor of forensic psychiatry at St George’s University Hospitals in the UK, has said that Felicien Kabuga is not fit to plead, understand evidence and meaningfully participate in a court hearing.
Mezey is one of the medics that were tasked with examining Kabuga’s health and come up with independent medical reports regarding his fitness to stand trial, in order to guide the court’s decision on whether to continue with the trial or not.
Speaking to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT) in The Hague, Mezey said Kabuga’s ability to understand information and to express himself seemed very limited, very stilted and constricted in terms of his vocabulary and how he expressed himself.
The suspect is diagnosed with two types of dementia: Vascular and Alzheimer’s, according to the medics.
“The Alzheimer’s degenerative decline is progressive and I think there is very little at this stage that can be done to halt its progression or modify it. The vascular cognitive degeneration, I think, has been slowed and managed as effectively as possible, for example by prescription of anti-hypertensive medication and by constant monitoring of his medical condition,” Mezey said.
When Emmanuel Altit, one of Kabuga’s lawyers asked Mezey whether it would be possible to have a meaningful discussion with the suspect, she responded:
“If you took him by the general conversation about the weather or what he did today, and the language is kept very simple, and the sentences are kept short, then there can be some kind of interchange.”
However, she noted that Kabuga would not have more complex conversations.
“It comes back to what I was being asked to assess in the first place – his fitness to plead really, his ability to follow the proceedings in court, to understand the evidence, to give evidence on his behalf and to meaningfully participate in the court hearing. I am clear that he would be unable to do that given his current level of cognitive functioning,” Mezey said.
Kabuga, 89, was a businessman before and during the genocide. He is charged with seven counts including: genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.
Other charges include persecution and extermination – both as crimes against humanity.
The court hearing is set to continue on March 29 as the judges hear more about the suspect’s health.