Rwanda’s Chief of Intelligence and Security Services, Lieutenant General Karenzi Karake, has been freed unconditionally after the English courts threw out the extradition case brought against him.
At the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London today, the Spanish authorities admitted that the General has committed no offence that could be prosecuted in England and Spain proving the wrongful arrest of the General.
This draws to a welcome close a period of over seven weeks in which Lt. Gen. Karake has been detained in London, which began with his incarceration in one of the UK’s highest security prisons.
The General was arrested by the Metropolitan Police at London Heathrow Airport on 20th June as he attempted to return home to Rwanda following his latest official visit to the UK. This was based upon a 2008 European Arrest Warrant sparked off by an indictment issued by a Spanish judge in the same year.
The Spanish indictment alleges that Lt. Gen. Karake and 39 other top leaders of the present Rwandan Government were members of a “criminal terrorist organisation called the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) formed in Uganda in the 1980s with the purpose of committing genocide against the Hutu in Rwanda; usurping power by force in Rwanda; ravaging East Democratic Republic of Congo and establishing a Tutsi-Hima empire in the region”. The indictment charges that the same “terrorist organisation” operated with support from the UK and USA governments as well as with sponsorship from the Uganda government.
The Spanish judge sought extradition of Lt. Gen. Karake and the other top Rwandan leaders for trial for alleged crimes said to have been committed in furtherance of this supposed criminal terrorist enterprise. For Rwanda, this indictment is not a trial of one of its leaders, still less a quest for justice: it twists Rwanda’s recent tragic history and is an affront to a whole nation, its people and Government. Indeed, it is Rwanda’s view that the indictment is a travesty of justice or, as others have said, it provides an “unrecognisable version of some of the most painful episodes in Rwanda’s history, distorting the established record, inventing mass killings, and placing the blame for Rwanda’s misfortunes upon the Government of Rwanda,” which stopped the genocide, rather than on those that perpetrated it.
It should be noted that Interpol elected not to serve the arrest warrant on any of the 40 targeted leaders, in recognition of the political nature of the Spanish indictment. Equally, the Spanish High Court set aside the indictment in January 2015 for lack of evidence, for being contrary to provisions of the Spanish Universal Jurisdiction law and for want of investigation.
Rwanda regards the discredited arrest warrant as just a tactic in a political campaign by those who deny the genocide of 1994, and is convinced that these proceedings amounted to an abuse of process brought in violation of the diplomatic immunity held by Lt. Gen. Karake. The Government of Rwanda firmly maintains that there is no case against any of the 40 leaders. We are delighted that today the General is finally free to return to his family, friends and countrymen in Rwanda and to resume his important duties.
The Government of Rwanda takes this opportunity to express its profound gratitude to all Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, including our legal team led by Cherie Blair, CBE, QC, for their unwavering solidarity and support.