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By: JAMES MUNYANEZA & EUGENE KWIBUKA, 24 June 2015, The New Times (Rwanda)
The Head of the National Intelligence and Security Services was barred from leaving the UK after a week-long official visit . General Karenzi Karake has traveled to London on several occasions without any trouble, but last Saturday, UK immigration officials prevented him from boarding a flight to Kigali, claiming there was an indictment issued by a Spanish Judge.
The incident left many wondering why a flawed 2008 indictment that is highly politicised and was recently suspended by the Spanish High Court is being honoured today. A closer look at the indictment and those involved shows a deep-rooted link to the genocidaires and their sympathisers.
Indictment linked to FDLR militia
The Spanish judge, who indicted 40 former and current senior Rwandan government officials over alleged war crimes and genocide, was sponsored by the same NGOs that enjoy strong links to FDLR, a terrorist group that comprises elements responsible for 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, that left over one million dead.
According to a 2009 UN Panel of Experts report on DR Congo, Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles received funding to work on the indictment from the same NGOs that had extended support to FDLR genocidaires.
Fundaciò S’Olivar and Inshuti, both Spanish charitable organisations, received nearly €200,000 in grants from the local government of the Balearic Islands (Mallorca) to prepare the indictments against RPF, the experts wrote in their report.
“On the basis of testimonies, original email correspondence, audio recordings of conversations, phone logs analysis and receipts of money transfers, as well as other documents, the Group established that FDLR has received regular financial, logistical and political support from individuals belonging to the above charitable institutions which, in turn, were funded directly or indirectly by the government of Islas Baleares, a provincial authority in Spain,” the Group of Experts said in its November 23, 2009 report to the UN Security Council.
FDLR, which has since defied several international and regional ultimatums to disarm, was blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organisation.
The Group of Experts added: “An FDLR liaison officer who had been part of a weapons transfer between the FNL (then Burundi rebels) and FDLR in December 2008, stated to the Group that he had been in touch with Joan Casoliva, a Spanish citizen in contact with the government of Islas Baleares in Spain, and who had promised to FDLR liaison officer that he would raise up to two hundred thousand dollars for FDLR.”
Casoliva, the UN panel said, was listed in 1999 as the president of Inshuti, which runs a Barcelona-based website posting articles alleging war crimes committed by top officials by the Rwandan government and military, as well as hosting a link to the FDLR website.
Documents show that Fundaciò S’Olivar received Euro 198,000 between 2001 and 2008 from the Fons Mallorquì de Solidaritat i Cooperaciò, a trust established by various mayoral offices in the Islas Baleares, to sustain the prosecution of RPF officials through Spanish courts, the UN panel said. “Casoliva reportedly worked on and off for Fundaciò S’Olivar in this same period of time.”
To further understand how sinister the indictment is, one can refer to the leaked US cables dated April, 2008 classified by the US ambassador at the time Michael R. Arietti who described the indictment as “outrageous and inaccurate.” “The Spanish Indictment of 40 Rwandan military officers offers an unrecorgnisable version of some of the most painful and violent episodes in Rwanda’s history, distorting the established record, inventing mass killings,” the cable reads in part.
In further questioning the indictment, the cable points to the inaccurate and repugnant description by the Spanish judge on the origins of the Genocide.
“At no point in the judge’s narrative is the Habyarimana regime or extremist elements within that government at fault – there is no planning of Genocide, no carrying out of prepared massacres, nary a mention of the insidious and all-encompassing psychological preparation of mass killings by the media outlets controlled by extremist elements,” the cable adds. The judge’s account of what happened in Rwanda is synonymous to Genocide denial and has prompted researchers to look into why he would get involved in a fanciful account of what happened.
Tom Ndahiro, an expert in Genocide studies, in his article, “Merelles: The Indictable Spanish Judge,” published in February 2011, argued that in analysing the indictment, it is substantially clear that either for his own ideological motives Judge Merelles consciously manipulated and misrepresented historical facts. This, Ndahiro wrote, enabled him to portray genocidaires in an intolerably positive way, hiding their clear responsibility for the planning and commission of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, the arrest of Gen Karenzi has sparked strong reactions from different sections. Andrew Mitchell, a senior British parliamentarian, described the arrest as an abuse of justice. “It’s a misuse of the European Arrest Warrant system,” Mitchell, an MP from the ruling Conservative Party said. “It’s being used by the supporters of the genocidal regime against those who stopped the Genocide,” he said, adding that the junior Spanish judge’s warrants had been suspended by the Spanish High Court in March 2014.
“The indictment is being used for political reasons, and not judicial ones,” Mitchell told the British media, yesterday. Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo blasted what she termed as “western solidarity in demeaning Africans” which she said was “unacceptable”
“It is an outrage to arrest a Rwandan official based on pro-genocidaires lunacy!” she wrote on her Twitter account. The minister said, “The UN in 2009 amply documented support of Spanish NGOs behind the preposterous “valid European arrest warrant” to genocidal militia FDLR!”
Egide Nkuranga, the vice president of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors’ associations, said that it does not make sense that Gen Karake could be arrested unless those who arrested him were in support of those who committed the Genocide against the Tutsi. “Those who committed the Genocide are roaming free but a man who contributed in stopping it is being arrested, it’s a shame,” Nkuranga told The New Times.