Arusha, 16 May 2008 (FH) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame has once again denounced the ' arrogance' of Western courts which assume, according to him, the right to accuse nationals of ‘weak nations' in a speech delivered Wednesday in Jerusalem and a copy availed to Hirondelle Agency Friday.

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"Lately, some in the more powerful parts of the world have given themselves the right to extend their national jurisdiction to indict weaker nations", stressed the Rwandan President, who was invited to the 60th anniversary of the establishment of State of Israel.

Kagame was making a barely concealed allusion to the arrest warrants issued recently by French and Spanish courts against some of his close collaborators accused of crimes committed during the 1994 genocide or afterwards.

He had made a speech with a similar tone on 7 April during the commemoration of the 1994 genocide which resulted, according to Kigali in nearly a million killed, primarily ethnic Tutsis although the United Nations estimates the death toll to be around 800,000.

"This is total disregard of international justice and order", President Kagame said in his speech, which was published in its full version by the Rwandan pro-governmental newspaper The New Times.

"Where does this right come from? Would the reverse apply - such that a judge from less powerful nations indicts those from the more powerful? This is mere arrogance which simply has to be resisted", he added.

He pled for "a world community in which sovereign nations govern themselves and where the dignity of a nation's inhabitants is paramount whether a country is powerful or not".

The Rwandan Parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies are holding Friday a debate on universal jurisdiction also to be attended by the Minister for Justice Tharcisse Karugarama, according to The New Times.

After French Judge Jean Louis Bruguiere issued in November 2006 arrest warrants against nine acquaintances of Kagame's entourage within the framework of the investigation into the attack against the plane of former President Juvenal Habyarimana in which three Frenchmen were killed, Kigali reacted by severing diplomatic ties with Paris.

The Spanish Judge, Fernando Andreu Merelles, investigating into the death of Spanish clergymen, issued last February arrest warrants against 40 officers of the current Rwandan army, including some who had already been indicted by his French colleague.


© Hirondelle News Agency