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Rwanda Demands Extradition of Former First Lady

Rwanda has formally demanded that France arrest the wife of former slain President Juvenal Habyarimana for being one of the masterminds behind the country’s genocide. This followed France’s refusal to grant Agathe Habyarimana asylum. She is accused of heading an inner circle of her husband's supporters that orchestrated the genocide in which scores of people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Tharcisse Karugarama is Rwanda’s Minister of Justice. He said Kigali’s demand for the arrest and extradition of Agathe Habyarimana and other perpetrators is not new.

“The truth of the matter is that, Rwanda for a long time has requested for the extradition for trial of not only Agathe but the numerous people moving freely inside France. This is common knowledge. The request has been that either these people be handed over to Rwanda for trial or be sent to the International Criminal Court set up in Arusha Tanzania for that purpose,” he said.

Karugarama said France had previously not granted a request for the extradition of alleged perpetrators of the genocide.

“Even before the breakup of the diplomatic relations, those request were not respected. I’m not thinking it would be any better but it won’t be any worse. The situation has remained as it has been but in practical terms, where there is a will there is a way. I think if France wanted a real co-operation on the matter, that would be a forgone conclusion... that those type of people would be sent back for trial,” Karugarama noted.

He denied that Kigali’s request for the extradition of masterminds of the genocide is a witch-hunt.

“There can’t be a witch hunt, if anybody doubts our position, why don’t they send them to Arusha? I do not think I would subscribe to witch hunting anybody and I think the government has been very clear on this matter. That is why even those who are tried inside here, I think the rate of acquittal is higher than most countries I know of in the world,” he said.

Karugarama said the government is gradually winning the trust of the world about finding justice for victims of the genocide.

“We believe we are building consensus with the international partners and development partners. We believe that in the long run, all masterminds of the genocide would be apprehended wherever they would be… it’s a question of time and patience and we believe the long arm of the law would catch up with anybody that had a hand in the genocide in this country,” Karugarama said.