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Rwandan chief's arrest 'an insult'

The arrest of a Rwandan intelligence chief at Heathrow Airport over war crimes allegations has been condemned by the country's high commissioner in London.

Karenzi Karake was detained by the Metropolitan Police's extradition unit on behalf of the authorities in Spain, where he is wanted over alleged crimes against civilians.

Williams Nkurunziza, Rwanda's High Commissioner to the UK, called the arrest "an insult" and former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell claimed it was "politically motivated".

The 54-year-old director-general of Rwanda's national intelligence and security services was held at Heathrow on Saturday morning.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London and was remanded in custody until Thursday.

A Met spokesman said Karake appeared in court after being arrested on a European arrest warrant on behalf of the authorities in Spain "where he is wanted in connection with war crimes against civilians".

He is accused of ordering massacres while head of military intelligence in the wake of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

He is also accused of ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals working for aid charity Medicos del Mundo.

Mr Mitchell, who worked closely with the Rwandan government while a Cabinet minister, said the European arrest warrant system was being "abused", with the allegations pursued by supporters of the old regime in Rwanda.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that warrants were issued against 40 senior Rwandan officials by a "junior" judge in Spain.

He said: "These are politically motivated - they are not about justice, they are about politics. Let's be very clear, they are being pursued by supporters of the genocidal regime which murdered up to one million people in Rwanda. It is one of the great tragedies and disgraces of our time, only 21 years ago.

"I think it is reprehensible that the European arrest warrant system should be abused in this way by a junior Spanish judge."

Mr Nkurunziza told the BBC World Service: " We take strong exception to the suggestion that he's being arrested on war crimes.

"Any suggestion that any of our 40 leaders are guilty of crimes against humanity is an insult to our collective conscience."


From Belfast Telegraph