British authorities have reportedly arrested five genocide suspects who were seeking asylum in the country. They are alleged to have been masterminds of Rwanda?s 1994 genocide that killed scores of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.  The arrest comes after Rwanda formally requested that British and other European governments hand over the suspects.         

Tharcisse Karugarama is Rwanda?s Minister of Justice. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the arrest of the genocide suspects.

?Rwanda did file a request for extradition of suspects in UK and the files of these guys were submitted and investigations are going on,? he said.

Karugarama points out that the investigations have uncovered some suspects hiding in European countries and in many world capitals.

?Whenever we have indications of where they can be traced, we do indicate to the authorities of the respective countries to try and help us apprehend them. In the case of these guys in the UK, Rwanda did indicate that they had files of cases to answer back in Rwanda. And there was a request for these people to be extradited to Rwanda. That?s the truth,? he noted.

Karugarama says once the British authorities are satisfied that there is a case to answer, they will take the suspects to court, which would order the extradition or the deportation.

He says many countries are now co-operating with the Rwandan government to arrest suspects who participated in the country?s genocide.

?The co-operation has been on, really I should say, in many countries of the world. But we have not been able to secure even a single suspect extradited or deported back to Rwanda. Not yet. But the processes are on and there is co-operation now. I think the world is now trying to understand that it?s not good to harbor genocide or mass killers who enjoy freedom of movement when they committed mayhem and mass killings back home,? Karugarama said.

He agrees that internal pressures, coupled with pleas of European countries to abolish the death penalty account for a Kigali government move to have it expunged from the statutes books in the country.

?The debate to abolish to death penalty is as old as 1994, immediately after the genocide. The debate has been alive. We have our own internal dynamics here that make it necessary for us to abolish the death penalty?. The Rwandan government feels that it?s time to give life a chance to preserve and give meaning and value to life. But if you say that part of the problem is that we have genocide suspects from outside the country, which is truth itself. But it?s not the principal reason,? he said.

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