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Protest in Rwanda

DW staff (ew)November 11, 2008

Thousands protested outside the German embassy in Kigali against the arrest of senior Rwandan official Rose Kabuye. She is wanted for questioning by a French judge in conjunction with the country's genocide in 1994.

Rwanda's flag -- blue, yellow and green stripes, with a yellow sun in the top right corner
Rwandan flag

Thousands of people gathered outside the German Embassy in Kigali on Monday as Rwanda made a formal protest. Standing in driving rain, the people chanted "Free Rose, Free Rose."

Some protestors waved signs reading "France: Your days of lies are numbered" and "Germany: Why don't you arrest genocidaires on your soil."

Police spokesman Willy Marcel Higiro told AFP that the demonstrators numbered around 7,500.

The protestors marched from the heavily-protected German embassy to the offices of Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, on the outskirts of Kigali.

At around lunchtime, cars drove across the capital blaring out messages announcing that all offices were closed for the afternoon and urging civil servants and members of the public to join the demonstrations. Rwandan security forces in riot gear kept an eye on the protesters.

Rwanda said the arrest warrant for Kabuye was a "political game designed to blur the truth and weaken the government."

Germany justifies arrest

Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was arrested at a Frankfurt airport on Sunday on an international warrant issued by France in 2006.

France wants to question her about her alleged involvement in the 1994 plane crash that killed then-president Juvenal Habyarimana. The crash led to 100 days of genocidal killing in Rwanda.

A young Rwandan girl walks through Nyaza cemetery, consisting of wooden crosses mounted in rows on bare earth
The Nyaza cemetery outside Kigali commemorates the victims of the 1994 genocideImage: AP

But a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Berlin said German officials had been obliged to arrest Kabuye.

"The arrest warrant was binding and obligatory for the German government and the police. Against this backdrop we had no other choice than to make the arrest," ministry spokesman Jens Ploettner said.

The Rwandan government said Kabuye was traveling on official government business when she was arrested. However, Hildegard Becker-Toussaint, a state prosecutor in Hesse, told Reuters: "She came in the company of another private individual who did not have any diplomatic status."

Becker-Toussaint also added that Kabuye was accused of a serious crime due to the suspected involvement in the 1994 plane crash: "She allegedly participated in the planning and execution of that. This means if the allegations are true, she participated in a terror attack and the manslaughter of several people."

Kabuye facing extradition

According to ministry spokesman Jens Ploettner, Rose Kabuye will be extradited from Germany to France within weeks.

Kabuye's lawyer, Lef Forster, told Reuters in Paris that his client was willing to go before a French judge.

"She believes there are no charges," Forster said, adding that his client denied any involvement in the April 6, 1994 attack.