SPAIN and the UK have both been criticised angrily by Rwandan government representatives following the arrest of the country’s most senior intelligence officer. Karenzi Karake was taken into custody at Heathrow by British police, in response to an international arrest warrant issued by Spain accusing him of ordering retaliation massacres following the Rwandan genocide. He is also accused of responsibility in the murders of three Spanish healthcare professionals working with Medicos del Mundo.
Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, tweeted her furious response, stating: “Western solidarity in demeaning Africans is unacceptable!!”
General Karake has been Rwanda’s intelligence chief for 20 years and is a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, credited with bringing to an end the genocide which saw 800,000, mostly Tutsi people, massacred by Hutu ethnic extremists. Karake is accused of ordering revenge killings of Hutu people, a claim that is vigorously denied by the Rwandan government.
The Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Williams Nkurunziza, told the BBC World Service: “We take strong exception to the suggestion that he’s being arrested on war crimes. Any suggestion that any of our 40 leaders are guilty of crimes against humanity is an insult to our collective conscience.”
Spain issued the arrest warrant against Karake and 39 others in 2008. Whether he is now extradited to Spain will be decided in a British court, with a hearing likely to be set up within the next three weeks. However, even if extradition is agreed, Spain may face difficulty in pursuing the prosecution. Last year, the Rajoy administration changed the law to curtail judges’ powers to address crimes that happened outside Spanish borders.