13.12.07 - FRANCE/RWANDA - EXAMINATION IN PARIS OF A RWANDAN EXTRADITION REQUEST

Paris, 13 December 2007 (FH) - Before rendering its decision on 6 February, the prosecution asked Wednesday the Court of Appeal of Paris to have the Rwandan government specify the charges against Isaac Kamali, a French citizen, wanted by Kigali for his alleged participation in the genocide.
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Naturalized French in 2002, Mr. Kamali was arrested in France on 22 June, after being sent back from the United States, under the terms of an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda in October 2004.

Rwanda requests his extradition for two reasons. The first relates to his alleged participation in the genocide in the prefecture of Gitarama. The second is so he serves a sentence of life in prison for which he was sentenced by a Rwandan court in March 2003. He had initially been sentenced to death, but since capital punishment has been abolished in Rwanda.

"The extradition request does not correspond to the usual criteria of a state that wishes to co-operation with other states", underlined the representative of the prosecution, Jean-Charles Lecompte. According to him, Rwanda, which "wishes to integrate the geographical surface of democratic societies", must "give a certain number of precise details that are missing".

Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, lawyer for Mr. Kamali, asked the court not to grant this request by the prosecutor and to reject the extradition request which "comes from a country which does have law ". The death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment, he said. "There is a great risk that he be subjected to torture", he assured by asking "France not to be the instrument of a criminal regime".

Questioned by the investigation chamber, Mr. Kamali, 58, said that he was "devastated by the genocide", a "great part" of his Tutsis relatives were eliminated. He is, he said, "an embarrassing witness of the crimes of the RPF", from which President Kagame comes. "The case is furnished with false and untrue arguments ", he assured. Kamali has been living for ten years in France where he teaches mathematics.

Diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda were broken off in November 2006 following arrest warrants issued against nine close associates of the current President Paul Kagame within the framework of the investigation into the attack against the plane of President Juvénal Habyarimana, on 6 April 1994. French courts estimate that Paul Kagame financed this attack. A theory refuted by Kigali.

Since the two heads of state, Nicolas Sarkozy and Paul Kagame, have met in Lisbon; outlining, according to their own terms, the beginnings of a normalization of relations between the two countries

AP/PB/MM
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