Rwanda’s intelligence chief General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, who is wanted for war crimes in Spain, has officially been arrested at Heathrow airport in London on Saturday and will remain in custody for his hearing on Thursday. He was arrested for ordering massacres while he headed the Rwandan Patriotic Front, additionally, he is being accused of killing three Spanish nationals who had been working for Medicos del Mundo.
Rwanda is outraged over the arrest, as well as confused. Karake was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant which makes extradition within the European Union easier. This indictment has existed since 2008 when Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu indicted he and thirty nine other current or former high-ranking Rwandan military officials. But Rwandans are confused because Karake had entered Europe repeatedly since 2008 and had not been arrested before. Not only this, but the suggestion that any of their leaders are guilty of crimes against humanity could greatly affect the collective conscience of Rwandans.
General Karake has been hailed as one of the people who helped to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 that resulted in an estimated 800,000 dead between April and June 1994. As a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Karake is part of the Tutsi-led rebel movement that entered Rwanda from Uganda and took control back over the country.
So what is Karake being accused of? According to Human Rights Watch, they say that for their drive to military victory and control, the RPF is being charged with killing thousands, including government troops, members of the militia and civilians in numerous executions and mass murders.
However, there has been an international outcry over the arrest, as many believe that the Spanish are using this for political reasons rather than actual judicial reasons. In the past, Spanish magistrates have used universal jurisdiction several times to go after current or former government leaders and those suspected of terrorism. They even indicted Osama bin Laden over the September 11th, 2001 attacks, but actual extraditions and convictions have been few and far between for Spain.
For now, Rwandan officials are outraged as Rwanda and Britain attempt to come to an agreement. But, Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye is currently insisting that Spain’s indictment of Karake is illegitimate and politically motivated.