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WANTED: War criminals still at large

Radovan Karadžić found guilty of genocide, but others still on the run

Poster for alleged Rwanda war criminals
Poster for alleged Rwanda war criminals

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was today found guilty of genocide and war crimes and sentenced to 40 years in jail.

The verdict ends Europe’s biggest war crimes trial since Nuremburg, and hopefully brings some solace to the families of the victims of the ethnic cleansing in Srebrenica in 1995. Karadžić was the final case before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal is one of a series of international courts created to address the legacies of large-scale human rights violations, push back against impunity and hold individuals accountable. The list includes the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, hybrid courts like the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Special Tribunal for Cambodia, and the Hague-based International Criminal Court, with its universal jurisdiction. At times controversial, they mark a shift towards a global framework of international human rights norms.

But first you must catch your killer. Below are three fugitives – charged with crimes of chilling proportions – that are yet to face justice.


Joseph Kony

Félicien Kabuga

Joseph Kony, Lords Resistance Army
Joram Jojo/Flickr
Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army

Félicien Kabuga
Félicien Kabuga

The leader of Uganda’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army may not be the world’s greatest mass murderer, but the sheer horror of his crimes means he tops our list. His rebel band is notorious for the massacres of civilians, the brutalisation and forced recruitment of children, sexual enslavement, mutilations and calculated terror. Kony grew out of the chaos of northern Uganda in the late 1980s. A self-styled messenger of God and spirit medium, he claimed to be fighting to turn the country into a theocracy, and in the process “purify” his own Acholi people.

Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 on 21 counts of war crimes and 12 counts of crimes against humanity. Ever-elusive and a master of the bush, he is believed to keep on the move in a triangle of remote territory between South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic. He is being hunted by the Ugandan army, backed by a small team of US special forces.

A Rwandan businessman, accused of bankrolling and participating in the Rwandan genocide. He was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1998. Kabuga was expelled from Switzerland in 1994, and spent some time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before sheltering in Kenya, where he is believed to be protected by senior figures in the former corrupt regime of President Daniel arap Moi. A reported attempt by US investigators to apprehend him in 2003 led to the murder of their Kenyan informant. In 2009 a Kenyan court froze his assets, and a legal appeal against the ruling bought by his wife was rejected in 2015.

Kabuga, 81, bankrolled RTLMC, the radio station that spewed hate against the Tutsi minority in Rwanda. The broadcasts helped to prepare the ground for the genocide in which 800,000 people were killed. He was also one of the country’s main importer of machetes, with which much of the slaughter was carried out.

Omar al-Bashir
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Jesse B. Awalt/via Wikimedia Commons
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

The Sudanese president is the only sitting head of state with outstanding arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court. He was initially charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. In 2010, three counts of genocide were added. The accusations stem from the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur. Al-Bashir is accused of masterminding a campaign, waged by Sudanese forces and Janjaweed militia, “to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity”. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 died in the government’s scorched-earth response to rebellion in Darfur by local groups challenging their marginalization.

Some legal experts argue the ethnic cleansing charges will be hard to prove, and the ICC may have overreached. But that is moot, as Al-Bashir does not appear about to be detained anytime soon. The African Union, League of Arab States, Non-Aligned Movement, and the governments of Russia and China are backing Al-Bashir. His international travel plans are only occasionally inconvenienced – most recently when he was hustled out of South Africa last year by the government when a local court demanded his arrest.


The ICC is still pursuing a number of indictments.  This interactive map shows ICC cases across the globe. Zoom in and out and click on each country for more details.

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