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Kigali Expresses Displeasure Over Diplomat’s Arrest in Germany

Rwanda's chief of protocol goes before a French judge today (Monday) after she was arrested in Germany over allegations of participating in the assassination of the country's former president, an event that triggered the country's 1994 genocide. Rose Kabuye, who was a leading member of a former rebel group, was arrested Sunday on her arrival at Frankfurt Airport under a French-issued arrest warrant. She is the first Rwandan to be arrested out of nine warrants issued by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguire in 2006 against close aides of President Paul Kagame for their alleged role in the assassination of former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

The death of the former president is widely believed to have started the 1994 genocide in which 800 thousand minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed over a 100-day period. But President Paul Kagame's government Sunday rejected the arrests citing European political manipulation against Rwanda.

Jean Bosco Gasasira is the editor of the Umuvugizi independent newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Kigali that President Kagame's government hurriedly organized a news conference to explain its displeasure with the arrest of the diplomat.

"The news conference was unexpected, it was very urgent and it was called tonight explaining the arrest of retired colonel Rose Kabuye. They were explaining that her arrest was politically manipulated and was saying that if the European countries continue to base their action on such political indictment, the international jurisdiction is going to be in anarchy," Gasasira noted.

He said the government sharply denied that Rose Kabuye, who is currently the chief of protocol in President Kagame's government, was responsible for the charges being leveled against her.

"They (government) are saying that colonel Rose Kabuye was among those who stopped the genocide. And for them (Europeans) they are saying that she committed war crimes or was among those who shot ex-President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane. But the government is saying that is manipulation or fraud justice, claming that it was not true of the charges leveled against her (Kabuye). The government is calling on all European countries where the indictment holds not to respond to them," he said.

Gasasira said President Kagame's government has strongly protested the arrest of its chief of protocol to the German ambassador in Kigali.

"The foreign affairs minister just told journalists that the German Ambassador to Rwanda was called yesterday (Sunday) afternoon so that they could tell him how Rwanda is unhappy about what happened in Rose Kabuye's arrest," Gasasira noted.

He said Kigali is promising to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of the chief of protocol.

"Colonel Rose Kabuye is going to be transferred from Germany to France. And we should be reminded that she is supposed to appear today (Monday). She is supposed to appear in front of the judge on the allegations of war crimes and the shooting down of the plane of the former Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana. And the government is saying that if at all she needs any assistance, they are going to be there for her, both financial and legal assistance," he said.

Gasasira said the government is dismissing the charges as unsubstantiated.

"The government is blaming the European countries saying that the allegations on both Rose Kabuye and her former colleagues that is the four RDF (Rwanda Defense Forces) in the former rebel movement who were indicted, they are saying those allegations are baseless, and that these are manipulations against the Rwanda Defense Forces," Gasasira pointed out.

He said the French army has filed a suit against Kigali over defamation.

"Last week the French Army sued the Rwandan government for defamation after the Kigali government accused French soldiers of having a hand in the country's 1994 genocide. So, there is all along the fight between Rwanda and France, each accusing the other of having an upper hand in the genocide and committing war crimes," he said.

Meanwhile, In April, Kabuye sparked controversy by visiting Germany as part of an official delegation headed by Kagame. But Berlin at the time acknowledged its government was not aware of the French arrest warrant, adding that German law prevented it from taking action against representatives of foreign states or their delegations it had invited to visit.

Both Rwanda and France have long traded and refuted accusations of involvement in the genocide. Kigali broke off ties with Paris following the French arrest warrants. In August, the Rwandan government issued a 500-page report accusing 13 French politicians of playing a role in the massacres, including then-president Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996, and former prime minister Edouard Balladur. The report alleged France's complicity saying Paris was aware of preparations for the genocide, and significantly contributed to planning and participating in the massacres.