Rwanda's intelligence chief Karenzi Karake has been arrested in Britain on a warrant issued by Spain for alleged war crimes. The government in Kigali has reacted by describing the detention as an "outrage" and "lunacy."
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed on Tuesday that Karenzi Karake was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport on Saturday and was remanded in custody to reappear in court on Thursday.
The European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain follows a Spanish High Court ruling in 2008 that accused 40 Rwandan military and political leaders, including Karake, of engaging in reprisal killings after Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
The indictment by Spanish judge Fernando Andreu cited the deaths of thousands of civilians, including Spaniards.
"Karenzi Karake, 54, a Rwandan national appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court … after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant on behalf of the authorities in Spain, where he is wanted in connection with war crimes against civilians," British police said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
'Lunacy,' says foreign minister
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said via Twitter: It is an outrage to arrest Rwandan official based on pro-genocidaires lunacy!"
"Western solidarity in demeaning Africans is unacceptable," she wrote.
Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said both Rwanda and Britain were "talking to resolve the matter," but insisted Spain's indictment of Karake was illegitimate.
Last week, Rwanda's ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), said its senior members had backed calls for a change in the country's constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third term in office.
Kagame was re-elected by a landslide in 2010.
Critics accused Kagame, 57, of trampling on media and political freedoms. He has also won praise for progress made in economically transforming the small country.
Neighboring Burundi has been in turmoil since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to stand for a third term in polls due next month.
Opponents branded his bid as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war in Burundi.
ipj/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)