Africa

Rwanda intelligence chief Karenzi Karake granted bail by UK court

A photo taken on December 17, 2010 shows Rwandan Lieutenant General Karenzi Karake at Nasho Military training school in Kirehe District, in Rwanda"s Eastern Province, Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Gen Karake has vowed to fight his extradition to Spain

Rwanda's intelligence chief Karenzi Karake has been granted bail of £1m ($1.6m) by a court in London.

Karenzi Karake was detained at London's Heathrow Airport on Saturday, in response to a European Arrest Warrant.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame had earlier launched a scathing verbal attack on the UK government over Gen Karake's arrest.

Mr Kagame said it was a continuation of "colonialism" and accused the British of "arrogance and contempt".

Gen Karake is accused by Spain of ordering massacres in the wake of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

He will be freed once the £1m is paid and other bail conditions are met.

After the hearing, Rwanda's High Commissioner to Britain, Williams Nkurunziza, said: "I'm very happy but I would have been happier if he would have been allowed to return.

"This is the best it gets with this legal system."

Gen Karake will have to report to police daily and live either at the high commissioner's home or in a house rented by the Rwandan embassy.

President Kagame said that the British authorities "must have mistaken [Gen Karake] for an illegal immigrant. The way they treat illegal immigrants is the way they treat all of us".

He added that the British had been patronising, "wagging a finger at the African and telling him this is where you belong. We are no longer the African that belongs there".

The BBC's Newsnight programme reported that Gen Karake was in the UK to meet the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency.


Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters outside Westminster magistrates court celebrated Gen Karake's release on bail

The scene in court - Richard Galpin, BBC News

The public gallery of the magistrates' court was packed with Gen Karake's supporters, who applauded and shouted as he entered the courtroom, dressed in a bright green and yellow tracksuit.

Sitting in the dock with a policeman either side of him, he turned to acknowledge his supporters, raising his hands in a gesture of solidarity.

For the rest of the hearing, he remained impassive, speaking only a few words when required by the district judge, including confirming that he opposed the extradition request made by the Spanish authorities.

After hearing lengthy arguments about whether to release him from custody, the district judge eventually agreed with Gen Karake's lawyer that he was a suitable candidate for bail.

But the judge imposed a series of conditions to ensure the police can constantly monitor his whereabouts.

On the street outside the court, his supporters started singing in celebration.


Gen Karake, 54, was greeted by cheers and clapping by supporters as he arrived in the courtroom.

A full hearing to discuss his extradition to Spain will take place on 29 and 30 October.

Gen Karake's defence team includes Cherie Booth, former British prime minister Tony Blair's wife.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Cherie Booth, former British prime minister Tony Blair's wife, is on Gen Karake's defence team
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters say they will not leave the British High Commission in Rwanda until Karenzi Karake is released

In Rwanda, there have been protests outside the British High Commission in the capital, Kigali.

Protesters have threatened to remain until Gen Karake is released.


Accusations facing Gen Karake:

  • Accused of ordering massacres after the 1994 genocide while head of military intelligence
  • Wanted for genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism
  • Accused of ordering the killing of Spanish aid workers in 1997

William Gelling, the UK's High Commissioner to Rwanda, addressed the crowd briefly on Wednesday.

"All I can say is that this was a legal decision as you understand, on behalf of the Spanish legal authorities.

"The UK is a very close partner with Rwanda,'' he said, as quoted by the AP news agency.

Spanish investigative judge Andreu Merelles indicted Gen Karake in 2008 for alleged war crimes, along with 39 other current or former high-ranking Rwandan military officials.

He is accused of killing ethnic Hutu civilians in both Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, after the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) came to power in 1994.

The Tutsi-dominated RPF helped end the genocide, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists.

He is also accused of ordering the killing in 1997 of three Spanish nationals working for Medicos del Mundo.

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