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Opponent of Rwanda's Kagame Found Dead in South Africa

A picture taken on January 2, 2014 in Johannesburg shows the entrance of the "Michelangelo" Hotel.

A picture taken on January 2, 2014 in Johannesburg shows the entrance of the "Michelangelo" Hotel.

The former head of Rwanda's intelligence service has been found dead -- apparently strangled to death in an upscale Johannesburg hotel on New Year's Day.

Patrick Karegeya’s body was found January 1st at the luxury Michelangelo Hotel in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton.

A spokeswoman for the South African Police, Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale, said they are treating this as a murder investigation.

"It is alleged that he booked himself on the 29th and on New Year’s Day was found by the hotel staff dead on his bed and police were called to the scene. … Preliminary investigation revealed that his neck was swollen, thereby leading the police to believe that he might have been strangled," said Mogali. "A towel as well as a rope was found in the hotel room as well."

Mogale says the towel had blood on it, and both items were found in the room's safe. She says the murder investigation has been handed over to the South African Police Service's priority investigations division.

No suspects have been taken into custody. Mogale did not reveal if police had any leads or possible motives.

A statement from Karegeya's party, the opposition Rwanda National Congress, alleges that the death was politically-motivated, and accuses the current Rwandan government of orchestrating the murder.

The government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denied various allegations that it targets political opponents for assassination.

Karegeya served as the head of Rwanda’s external intelligence from 1994 to 2004, but was demoted and later stripped of his colonel rank. He was jailed twice and had been living in exile in South Africa since 2007.

Another Rwandan in exile in South Africa, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived two assassination attempts since he and Karegeya formed the Rwanda National Congress in 2010.

Mogale said police are investigating whether previous attempts on Karegeya's life were made.