Rwanda: “Guilt Should Not Blind Us” to Rwanda Abuses, Says Expert


By Julia Crawford

The surprise June 20, 2015 arrest in London of Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake on a Spanish arrest warrant brought strong protest from the Rwandan government. Karake is currently free on bail, pending hearings in October on whether he should be extradited to Spain to face war crimes charges.

Stephen W. Smith is professor of African studies at Duke University in the US, and a former Africa editor of leading French dailies Le Monde and Libération. In a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times he says Karake’s arrest could mean that Rwandan President Paul Kagame “is no longer beyond the reach of international justice”. Stephen Smith answered questions from JusticeInfo.Net:


JusticeInfo.Net: You seem to suggest in your article that Karenzi Karake, even if he should ever be found individually guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, is a “hostage” (and I quote you) of his boss, Rwandan President Paul Kagame. On what grounds do you say this?

Stephen Smith: As a member of the tightly-knit leadership group around President Kagame, most of whom are Tutsi returnees from Uganda, General Karenzi Karake has held command responsibilities since 1994. He played a prominent role in the mass killings of Hutus in Rwanda, he participated in the war in the neighboring DRC, namely in 2000 in the ‘battle of Kisangani’ where Congolese civilians were massacred, and he had already once been the head of the Rwandan intelligence services before falling from grace in 2010.

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