Félicien Kabuga, who was detained earlier this month on charges relating to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has called the accusations against him “lies”, the Reuters news agency reports.
Mr Kabuga was one of the most wanted people accused of being involved in the slaughter.
He is alleged to have been one of the main financiers of ethnic Hutu extremists who killed 800,000 people. They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents.
Mr Kabuga has been on the run since 1994, and his comments in a Paris courtroom on Wednesday are the first he’s made in public on the accusations for 26 years.
He was arrested in Paris where he was living under a false identity. The UN prosecutors who aim to put him on trial want him to be transferred to UN custody in The Hague.
French judges are being asked to decide if that transfer should go ahead.
Reuters reports that when he was asked if he understood the charges, Mr Kabuga replied, via an interpreter: “All of this is lies. I have not killed any Tutsis. I was working with them.”
His lawyer, Laurent Bayon said the results of a DNA test used to identify him should be annulled as he had not given consent.
Mr Bayon insisted his client is “old and sick” and said his health should be considered. He argued that Mr Kabuga should be tried in France.
His request for bail was refused, Reuters reports.