Rwandan General expected home from UK following release

Tuesday August 11 2015

A photo taken on December 17, 2010 shows Rwandan Lieutenant General Karenzi Karake when he was still a major-general. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA |

The head of Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services Lt Gen Emmanuel Karenzi Karake is expected to return home in less than 48 hours after a UK court dismissed a case to have him extradited to Spain to face charges.

Gen Karenzi Karake was arrested in June in the UK on a European arrest warrant issued based on indictments of a Spanish Judge accusing the Rwandan General and 39 others of committing crimes against humanity.

On Monday, a court in London dismissed the case on grounds that the Spanish arrest warrants were not connected to Britain in anyway, despite the UK having earlier said that it had a legal obligation as an EU country to effect the arrest warrants.

According to Rwanda’s Justice Minister Johnston Busingye, who was in London to oversee the procedure, the decision by the court means that Mr Karake is free to return home and continue battling the charges from Rwanda.

“We said it from the beginning that this case was flawed and had no basis. We will keep fighting. This was and remains an unjust case,” Mr Busingye said from London.

Earlier reports had indicated that the charges had been dropped but it was later confirmed that the case against Mr Karake, who was out on conditional bail, was dismissed under a clause in Britain's Extradition Act, which caters for crimes committed on British soil or against British citizens.


“The case has been discharged today (Monday). It can be permitted if offences specified in the (arrest) warrant are not offences under the meaning of the (Act),” a court official told the media.

The arrest of Mr Karake infuriated Rwanda and threatened to harm diplomatic ties between Rwanda and the UK. President Paul Kagame strongly condemned the arrest of the intelligence official who had travelled to the European country on an official mission with a diplomatic passport.

Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo who also previously spoke out against the arrest, said that the arrest of the General was ‘unnecessary and abusive’ in the first place.

“Delighted! Gen. KK [Karenzi Karake] coming home! This was an unnecessary and abusive process,” Minister Mushikiwabo tweeted, extending her thanks to African Union and the AUC Chairperson Dlamini Zuma for standing with Rwanda.

“Rwanda very appreciative of Africa's stand on the abusive arrest of Gen. KK, he is now free,” she added.

READ: AU calls on Britain to release Rwanda spy chief

Backroom negotiations

According to sources, there have been ongoing negotiations between Rwanda and the UK to free Gen Karake.

He was scheduled to appear in court on September 26 and October 29 while the full extradition hearing was expected on October 30. However, there was no prior information that the hearing had been brought forward to August 10.

Sources further say there has been backdoor lobbying to have Gen Karake released after the arrest caught senior government officials off guard.

“Considering that courts in the UK work independently, this had to be done carefully to avoid any consequences not only on the justice system but also on the diplomacy of Britain,” the source further said.

Mr Karake's defence team included Cherie Blair, the wife of Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Rwanda had promised to fight the Spanish indictments which date back to 2008.