Spain sends demand to Britain for Rwandan spy chief

24th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Spain sent a formal demand to Britain on Wednesday calling for it to hand over Rwanda's spy chief, whom Madrid wants to try for alleged atrocities in the 1990s.

British police detained general Karenzi Karake, 54, at Heathrow airport on Saturday on a European arrest warrant issued by Spain in 2008 as part of an investigation into alleged crimes during the Rwanda conflict.

A judge at Spain's National Court "has made a formal request" for Britain to hand over the suspect, who faces terrorism charges in the case, a judicial source told AFP.

"Now that he has been captured, the European warrant for him to be handed over has been sent to Britain."

Karake is due to appear at London's Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday, where a date is expected to be set for the start of full extradition proceedings within the next three weeks, but the whole process could drag on for months.

He will be informed of the Spanish court's request and will have a chance to challenge it.

Spain's National Court launched an investigation in 2008 into allegations of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and terrorism in Rwanda in the 1990s.

The court's listing of Karake followed an investigation into the murder of nine Spaniards who were working with refugees in Rwanda between 1994 and 2000.

It later shelved the first three sets of charges but "the case is still active for the crimes of terrorism" in the case of nine Spanish people killed in Rwanda, according to a judicial source.

Karake is part of a circle of top military officers in the former Rwandan Patriotic Front rebel movement.

That force ended the 1994 genocide by Hutu extremists which left an estimated 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsis. Atrocities were also committed against Hutus.

The Rwandan government has condemned the detention of Karake, who has been President Paul Kagame's spy chief since 2011, branding it an "outrage".

Hundreds of protesters marched on the British embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Wednesday demanding Karake's release.

© 2015 AFP

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