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Rwanda's Intelligence Chief Arrested in London, Wanted for War Crimes in Spain

General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake was arrested at Heathrow airport, under a seven-year-old Spanish indictment that accuses of him of ordering massacres, alleged to have taken place in the wake of the country's 1994 genocide.

by VICE News
Jun 23 2015, 12:20pm

Imagen por Will Oliver/EPA

Rwanda's current intelligence chief has been arrested in London under a Spanish indictment for war crimes, fueling anger in the East African country. 

General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake was detained at Heathrow airport on Saturday, under a seven-year-old charges that accuse him of ordering massacres, alleged to have taken place in the wake of the country's 1994 genocide.

The indictment was originally issued in 2008 against 40 senior regime officials by Spanish national court Judge Fernando Andreu. Karake is also accused of ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals.

Rwanda's minister of foreign affairs Louise Mushikiwabo responded to the arrest on Twitter on Tuesday morning.

Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said his country and Britain are "talking to resolve the matter" of Karake's arrest. UK police said he had a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday and will be back in court on Thursday.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Andrew Mitchell, former UK secretary of state for international development, told the BBC's Today program that he feels the arrest "is a misuse of the European arrest warrant system, it's being used for political reasons and not for judicial ones and it's politically motivated, enacted by supporters of the genocidal regime in Rwanda which killed 1 million people, and it's being used against those who stopped that genocide."

Related: They Want Someone To Blame': Speaking With Former Rwandan Genocidaires

A spokesman for Spain's National Court said it was now up to British authorities to decide whether or not to extradite Karake. He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with court policy.

Andreu began considering the Rwanda case in 2005 after a complaint was filed by an African human rights group. Others indicted include James Kabarebe, now the defense minister in Rwanda.

In the 182-page indictment, Andreu said he also had evidence implicating Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the rebel forces that stopped the genocide in 1994, but could not charge him because as a sitting president Kagame has immunity.

Wikileaks release showed that a diplomatic cable sent in 2008 by the US embassy in Kigali regarded the Spanish indictment as "a bloated political tract, sloppily organized and endlessly repetitive, and, ultimately, a disservice to those Rwandans who suffered real losses from revenge killings by the Rwandan Patriotic Army."

Earlier this month, Rwanda's ruling RPF party backed changing the country's constitution to allow the president to sit for another term. The country's next election is due to be held in 2017.

Karake's arrest is likely to strain relations between the UK and Rwanda — already inflamed over the BBC's documentary Rwanda's Untold Story, which aired in October 2014.

The documentary suggested that Kagame may have played a role in the shooting down of the then-president Juvénal Habyarimana's plane, the act which started the genocide, and suggested that more Hutus than Tutsis may have been killed during the period of violence that followed.

Rwanda has since considered taking criminal action, while BBC broadcasts have been banned in the country.

Related: How Sorcery Saved Lives During the Rwandan Genocide

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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