22 Jun 2015

UK arrests one of Rwanda’s most senior military officers

One of Rwanda’s most senior military officers has been arrested in the UK.

General Emmanuel Karake Karenzi , the director general of the National Intelligence and Security Services, was prevented from leaving the country on Saturday.

“He went to London on official business on June 14th,” said Johnston Busingye, Rwanda’s attorney general and minister of justice.

“Seven days later, on his way back to Kigali, he was not allowed to proceed beyond the airport. We are still talking to the British goverrnment.”

According to Mr Busingye, General Karenzi is expected to be brought before a court of law in London on Thursday.

General Karenzi is a prominent member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the guerrilla army that ended the genocide against the country’s Tutsis in 1994.

In 2008, a Spanish judge indicted him for alleged war crimes committed in revenge for the genocide.


Pictures of people killed during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutus died

The Rwandan government denied all the allegations. Mr Busingye would not speculate on whether General Karenzi’s detention was connected to the Spanish case, nor on the fact that he has visited the UK several times before without problem.

In 2007, Human Rights Watch protested about General Karenzi’s appointment as deputy head of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, accusing him of responsibility for attacks on civilians when Rwandan forces were fighting Ugandans in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000.

He nonetheless retained the support of the Americans, who were desperate for African countries to contribute peacekeepers – Rwanda provided 3,000.

Although General Karenzi holds a senior position in the security services he has once been arrested in Rwanda.

In recent years President Kagame has fallen out with many of his previous comrades, especially those who might wish to succeed him.

General Karenzi’s detention will strain relationships between Rwanda and the UK.

Britain is a major aid donor to Rwanda and former Prime Minister Tony Blair has advised President Kagame, but Scotland Yard has said that Rwandan opposition activists in the UK may be at risk from agents operating here.

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