The Rwandan government says UK extradition procedures launched in June against its intelligence chief Karenzi Karake were a “travesty of justice”.
UK judicial authorities announced Monday that the procedures, based on a Spanish extradition request, had been dropped.
According to Kigali, the Spanish arrest warrant “twists Rwanda’s recent tragic history and is an affront to a whole nation, its people and Government”.
The Spanish indictment “distort(s) the established record, invent(s) mass killings, and plac(es) the blame for Rwanda’s misfortunes upon the Government of Rwanda, which stopped the genocide, rather than on those that perpetrated it”, says a Rwandan government statement in English.
The decision to drop extradition procedures against the Rwandan general was announced on Monday by a spokesman for Westminster Magistrates Court in London.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, which oversees prosecutions, said the case was dismissed because “the relevant laws on the conduct alleged in this case do not cover the acts of non-UK nationals or residents abroad.”
“The general has been freed unconditionally after the Spanish authorities conceded that the general has committed no offence that could be prosecuted in both England and Spain,” a statement from Omnia Strategy, the firm representing him, said.
But, according to a Spanish judicial source, it was the British judge in the case who found that “the UK was not competent to hear such offences committed outside British territory”, which would be in line with the statement from the Crown Prosecution Service.
General Karenzi Karake, a key figure in the Rwandan regime, was arrested on June 20 at London’s Heathrow airport at the request of Spain, which accused him of “crimes of terrorism” linked to the death or disappearance of nine Spanish nationals in Rwanda, three of whom were aid workers with Médecins du Monde.
He was freed on bail a few days later, but had to report to the police once a day whilst awaiting a court decision on the substance of the case. The Spanish indictment accuses General Karake of ethnic killings of Hutus following the 1994 genocide, when at least 800,000 mostly Tutsi people were killed.
“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,” says the Rwandan government statement. “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.”