By Edmund Blair
Rwanda is seeking an explanation from Britain about the arrest of its intelligence chief Karenzi Karake at the request of Spain, where he is wanted on war crime charges, a minister said in remarks published on Tuesday.
Karake, 54, director general of the African country’s National Intelligence and Security Services, was arrested at London Heathrow Airport on Saturday, British police said. He was remanded in custody to re-appear at the court on Thursday.
“We are handling the matter with the UK government,” Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said in remarks published by the New Times newspaper on its website. “We will contest in the courts. We have sought explanation from the UK on this matter as well.”
Busingye and other Rwandan officials in Kigali could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment.
Rwanda’s ambassador in London, William Nkurunziza, told the BBC that the charges levelled against Karake since 2008 in Spain were “politically motivated”.
In 2008, a Spanish High Court judge, Fernando Andreu, accused 40 Rwandan military and political leaders, including Karake, of engaging in reprisal killings after the country’s 1994 genocide.
The judge indicted the officials for genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including Spaniards.
In the genocide, about 800,000 people were slaughtered, mostly members of the Rwanda’s Tutsi minority as well as moderates in the Hutu majority.
The ethnic killing was halted by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the then rebel force led by Paul Kagame who is now president, after its forces marched into the capital.