African Union calls on UK to release Rwanda's spy chief

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2015 1:35 PM

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The African Union has called for Britain to release Rwanda's intelligence chief after his arrest on a warrant issued by Spain, which accuses him of killings after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda's foreign minister said on Friday.

British police arrested Karenzi Karake, 54, at Heathrow airport on Saturday on a warrant issued in Spain, a move the Rwandan government condemned as an "outrage".

Karake was released on bail on Thursday and has said he would fight the extradition. A full extradition hearing has been set for Oct. 29-30.

After a meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told reporters in Addis Ababa the continental body had asked for Karake's release.

"The outcome of this discussion has been the urgent call for the unconditional and immediate release of General Karenzi and an awakening of the Peace and Security Council and indeed the continent to the grave danger that faces Africa with the abuse of international law..." she said.

Mushikiwabo said Rwanda was in touch with the United Kingdom on the issue and that the arrest was a mistake.

"We have communicated back and we are in constant discussion, because to this hour we do not see why the United Kingdom would arrest General Karenzi," she said.

Karake was part of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the then-rebel force led by Paul Kagame, who is now president of Rwanda. The RPF halted genocidal attacks being carried out in Rwanda, mostly against minority Tutsis, making Karake a hero to his supporters.

The Spanish warrant stems from a lengthy indictment issued by a judge in 2008 which accused 40 senior Rwandans, including Karake, of war crimes in the aftermath of the genocide. Karake is also accused of ordering the killing of three Spanish volunteers from a medical charity in 1997.

The RPF government has long accused Western nations of failing to act to prevent the genocide and many of them have acknowledged the failing and since poured in aid.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Larry King)