By Judi Rever
A Spanish lawyer urged British authorities on Wednesday to stop Rwanda’s spy chief from leaving the UK, after a London court rejected a bid to have him extradited to Spain to face charges of terrorism, murder and torture.
On Monday, General Karenzi Karake was set free and told he could return home within 48 hours, causing angry scenes by protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in London.
“We request that General Karenzi Karake be prevented from leaving the United Kingdom and that precautionary measures imposed against him on June 25 be maintained until an appeal on the matter is considered and made final,” Jordi Palou-Loverdos told Digital Journal. A petition by the lawyer was sent to UK judicial authorities and Eurojust, a EU agency dealing with judicial cooperation.
General Karenzi Karake, who is head of Rwanda’s intelligence services, was arrested at Heathrow Airport in June in connection with organizing massacres after the 1994 genocide.
On Monday, Judge Howard Riddle – acting on legal advice offered by the Crown Prosecution Service — said Britain did not have the authority to uphold the extradition.
“After careful consideration we do not believe an extradition offence can be established under UK law. The main reason is that the relevant laws on the conduct alleged in this case do not cover the acts of non-UK nationals or residents abroad,” said a spokesman for the CPS.
The same judge approved the extradition to Spain of an alleged Basque terrorist – a non-UK national – in April 2015.
Karake is accused of organizing the murder of three Spanish nationals in 1997. The Spanish court says he is also responsible for killing Hutu civilians in Rwanda and refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain accuses the general of murder, torture and terrorism, in addition to crimes against humanity and genocide while he was head of Rwanda’s Directorate of Military Intelligence from 1994 until 1997.
Karake is among 40 Rwandan senior officers indicted by Spanish investigative judge Fernando Andreu Merelles in a case of universal jurisdiction.
Palou-Loverdos invoked the principle of aut dedere aut judicare which refers to the legal obligation of states to prosecute individuals who commit serious international crimes where no other state has requested extradition.
The Spanish lawyer criticized legal proceedings in Britain. He said the CPS ruling on Monday was a “surprise,” and that Judge Andreu had not been informed of Judge Riddle’s official decision. Instead the Spanish legal team had learned of the ruling in British media.
“As of today, the effectiveness and exact terms of the alleged judicial decision are completely unknown,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer said Spanish judicial authorities needed to examine Monday’s judgment and “formulate the appropriate action under international law.”
Karake’s defense team was led by Cherie Booth, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an ardent supporter of President Paul Kagame.
Rwanda said it was delighted by Monday’s ruling and said Karake’s arrest had been abusive and never should have been initiated.