Rwanda expels German ambassador over genocide arrest

12th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was arrested on Sunday in Frankfurt on a French warrant.

Nairobi/Kigali, Rwanda -- Rwanda expelled the German ambassador to Kigali Tuesday, calling back its own ambassador from Berlin as anger over the arrest of a Rwandan official accused of involvement in the assassination of a former Rwandan president escalated.

Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was arrested on Sunday in Frankfurt on a French warrant.

She is suspected of being involved in the assassination of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana - an act that sparked the 1994 genocide of up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The BBC quoted Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali as saying that the German ambassador had been given 48 hours to leave Rwanda and would not be welcomed back until the "matter was resolved."

A French magistrate suspects Kabuye and eight other Kagame staff of complicity in the death of Habyarimana. Kabuye is the first to be arrested.

The Hutu government accused Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of shooting down Habyarimana's plane on May 6, 1994, and then embarked on the genocide.

The RPF, which subsequently overthrew the government, says that the Hutus shot down the plane themselves to provide an excuse for massacring Tutsis.

The arrest of Kabuye has sparked widespread anger in Rwanda. Thousands of Rwandans on Monday marched on the German embassy and the offices of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in Kigali. Protestors also demonstrated against France.

The issuing of the arrest warrants in 2006 prompted Rwanda to break off ties with France immediately. Relations have remained poor ever since.

Rwanda accuses French military and political officials of helping to plan and execute the genocide.

Rwanda contended that Kabuye enjoys diplomatic immunity while working for the president and should not have been arrested.

But German Foreign Ministry officials insist she arrived with an ordinary passport on a non-official visit.

Kabuye has agreed to a fast-track extradition from Germany to France. Appearing Sunday before a German judge, she denied the allegations of murder and membership in a terrorist organization laid against her.

Kagame, who visited Kabuye in jail Tuesday, said he believed the arrest was politically motivated.

He said Rwanda did not agree with the actions of European authorities and considered them arrogant.

"They do it just because they are able to do it," he said.

Kagame also denied his aide's trip to Germany was private. He said she had been on official duties as a presidential staffer.

A senior prosecutor said the state superior court in Frankfurt was likely to decide within days on the extradition. Since Kabuye did not object, it would be a mere formality.

France has declined to comment on the case, saying it does not want to prejudice the inquiry.


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