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Rwanda Requests France Extradite Former Official Involved in Genocide


France is expected to receive an extradition request from Rwanda this week for a senior Rwandan politician accused of being involved in the 1994 genocide. Arjun Kohli has more on the story from our bureau in Nairobi.

Former Rwandan politician Isaac Kamali was captured as he tried to enter the United States from France last month. He was traveling with a French passport when the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol, discovered his name on a list of fugitives and arrested him at the Philadelphia airport.

He was taken back to Paris where he is in the custody of French officials.

The Rwandan government accuses Kamali of several counts of murder, and of orchestrating the genocide that saw the deaths of 800,000 people in three months. He was a member of Rwanda's former ruling party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, the party that is believed to have masterminded the genocide.

Rwanda's Foreign Minister Charles Murigande tells VOA that Rwandans want justice to be served.

"This man committed crimes in Rwanda. He is a Rwandan. Naturally, in the most logical thinking he should be held accountable where he has committed the crimes and for the people he has wronged to see justice being done," said Murigande.

Kamali is believed to have left Rwanda for Senegal and from there he took refuge in France.

Rwanda's relationship with France has deteriorated since last year, after a French magistrate accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of ordering the assassination of the former president, Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death precipitated the genocide. Mr. Kagame was the leader of the rebel group that brought the genocide to an end.

Following the French accusation, Rwanda closed the French Embassy in Kigali.

In recent weeks tensions have increased, after a French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that French officials had clear warnings in the early 1990s of a possible slaughter by ethnic Hutus of the minority Tutsis.

Rwanda's justice minister said last week that France should prosecute French politicians who ignored warnings about the genocide. Rwanda has also accused France of refusing to cooperate with a commission of inquiry into the 1994 massacre.

But Foreign Minister Murigande says Kamali will likely face trial.

"I cannot speculate on what France will do or will not do," he said. "It is party to the 1948 convention against genocide so I would expect of a civilized country not to be a safe haven for perpetrators of genocide. If there is any objection of bringing him to Rwanda, the bottom line for us is for him to be held accountable whether he is held accountable in Paris, in wherever, whoever would want to hold him accountable."

An International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was also set up in Tanzania in 1994. The court has delivered judgments on several individuals who were holding leadership positions in Rwanda during the genocide. Rwanda's former prime minister, Jean Kambanda and seven of his ministers are among the 25 people who have been convicted.

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