“Western solidarity in demeaning Africans is unacceptable!! It is an outrage to arrest Rwandan official based on pro-genocidaires lunacy!” tweeted Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
She was reacting to the news that Emmanuel Karenzi Karake was arrested on Saturday at Heathrow Airport because of a 2008 European arrest warrant that is honoured in the UK as well.
He is accused of ordering the massacre of civilians in Masaka, outside of Kigali, of ordering the deaths of three Spanish doctors from Medicos del Mundo, and a massacre in Ruhengeri in February 1993, among others. The list of charges was allegedly carried out during a 10-year span against specific officials, aid workers, and civilians in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“They have been working on this case for many years, hoping to know one day who was responsible for the slaughter of a brother, a son, a sister… what they are now expecting is a ruling with all the facts laid out and the names of who was responsible,” Jordi Palou-Louverdos, the lawyer for the victims' families, told RFI.
Although it took seven years to arrest Karake, there are five years of private investigations, three years of Spanish court investigations, and more than 50 protected witnesses who spoke of the Masaka massacres, says Palou-Louverdos.
“When we speak of international crimes they impact not only the families but the many victims, too. If the case proceeds there will be an extradition report which will be contested and the British authorities will make a decision,” he adds.
Rwandan activists in London said they were pleased that Karake had been arrested, even though it took seven years for UK authorities to arrest him.
“I was very happy that it happened, after many years of campaigning. We’ve been trying to get him arrested for many years. He’s been coming to the UK with other generals who are on the arrest warrant,” said René Mugenzi, a human rights activist at the Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Rights in London.
Mugenzi is alluding to the other 39 members of the top brass from the Rwandan Patriotic Front who are listed on the arrest warrant.
Hutu exiles have called for recognition of the other massacres before and after the genocide, but Mugenzi says that what he and others want is justice.
“Don’t worry about who might have been killed, the Hutu or the Tutsi. What is important is that whatever happened in the Rwandan massacres, which have clearly been occurring from 1990 until now. We need justice to happen,” he says, explaining that this will help Rwanda, and Rwandans, heal.
“There’s been impunity for crimes committed, especially those committed by members of the current regime. This is not the way a country should move on. Justice has to be done,” says Mugenzi.
-- with additional reporting by Nicolas Champeaux