02.04.08 - RWANDA/SPAIN - PRESIDENT KAGAME BLASTS ‘ARROGANCE' OF SPANISH JUDGE

Arusha, 2 April 2008 (FH) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denounced the "arrogance" of Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles, who issued last February arrest warrants against 40 officers of the Rwandan army that he accuses of genocide and terrorism, reported Wednesday the Rwandan pro-government newspaper, New Times.
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"If you look at what is in that dossier, they are actually not indicting the individuals listed, they are indicting the RPF ... Just imagine the arrogance of it", he said Tuesday during his monthly press conference.

"How a Spanish judge sitting in a Spanish village feels a duty to indict a whole leadership of a country?" asked Kagame. This was his first direct public reaction over the arrest warrants.

Some people in the West, he said, put themselves in the place of God; they think they have authority over us." They have no jurisdiction over us, over Rwanda, over me", added Mr Kagame.

"They think that Rwandans or Africans are all killers. According to them, we are all the same. But are we really the same? No, I can't accept that. The war we waged was to liberate our country. If I could meet him, I would tell him to go to hell," the Rwandan President underscored.

"All the people indicted were under my command. He should put all the responsibility on my shoulders and wait until I am out of the office", he suggested.

Judge Merelles stated in his decision that he could not indict Kagame because of his immunity as a current Head of State. "That judge comes from a certain school of thought; he belongs to a side; he serves a purpose", said the Rwandan president.

The Spanish court announced on 6 February to have issued arrest warrants against Rwandan officers, including 11 generals, accusing them of genocide, crime against humanity and terrorism in the 1990s. They are, inter alia, accused of having knowingly destabilized the regime of then President Juvenal Habyarimana by committing terrorist acts before seizing power.

Habyarimana was killed in a plane which was shot down by unknown assailants on 6 April, 1994 which sparked the genocide.

The Rwandan government qualified as "ridiculous" Spanish indictments and called on the international community and the International Police (INTERPOL) to ignore these arrest warrants. Instead, the Rwandan Parliament has asked the government to prosecute the Spanish judge for negationnism.

ER/PB/MM/SC

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