Gen. Karake Karenzi
Gen. Karake Karenzi
Gen. Karake Karenzi

The indictment of forty Rwanda Patriotic Army officers by a Spanish Judge in 2008 was described as ‘outrageous and inaccurate’ by a former US Ambassador to Rwanda, Michael R. Arietti.

In a ‘not redacted’ US embassy cable code-named 08KIGALI292 originated on April 24, 2008 and posted by Ms Susan Thomson on September 7, 2011, Amb. Arietti pokes several holes in Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles’ indictment issued in February 2008, for the officers to face war crimes charges allegedly committed after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

The 1338-word classified cable, ‘Spanish Indictments: Outrageous and Inaccurate’ and tagged ‘confidential’ was issued in relation to the indictments and is copied to the Secretary of State, US State Department in Washington DC, the US United Nations Mission in New York and several US embassies in Africa including the one in South Africa, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Also copied in are the US Embassies in the United Kingdom, The Hague and Spain, the country that sought the indictments through Judge Merelles, which indictments oblige most western countries to arrest any of the indicted officers.

Last Saturday, the UK arrested Rwanda’s Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, one of the indictees, but the communication by Arietti in 2008 is likely to feature prominently in any criminal proceedings against the General since the former envoy casts doubt over the Spanish judge’s indictments.

“The Spanish indictment of 40 Rwanda army officers an unrecognizable version of the most painful and violent episodes in Rwanda’s history, distorting the established record, inventing mass killings, placing the blame for any misfortune Rwandans have suffered (including the 1994 genocide) on the Kagame government, “ Amb Arietti summarised, in the cable that ‘was not redacted by Wikileaks’.

He added: “It is a bloated political tract, sloppily organized and endlessly repetitive, and, ultimately a disservice to those Rwandans who suffered real losses from revenge killings by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). End summary.”

According to Amb Arietti, the US Kigali mission reviewed ‘unofficial English version’ produced by the Rwanda government, and another version in French ‘of unknown provenance’. The envoy also indicates that many of the 40 have since died, but eagleonline has established that among those living are Defence Minister General James Kabarebe, renegade Lt Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, Lt Gen Ceaser Kayizari, Brig Gen Sam Kaka Kanyemera and Lt Col Rubagumya Gacinya.

Meanwhile, in the cable the former envoy takes issue with the choice of wording used by the Spanish Judge, who described the RPA as a ‘criminal organization’.

“The Rwanda Patriotic Front was founded, according to the judge, not as is conventionally understood as a political organization of refugees, unable to return home… to regain a homeland… but as a criminal organization consecrated to the elimination of Hutu civilians, raping of women and girls, abduction, and terrorist acts,” Amb. Arietti quotes the judge as writing in the 182-page indictment in French, which was later translated into English.

According to judge Merelles, Amb Arietti writes, some western powers, notably the US, played a big role in the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Rwanda Defence Forces, (RDF).

“In fact, the RDF took instructions from American officials in pursuing its criminal and genocidal assault on the Great Lakes region, and fought side by side with American Green Berets in Rwanda, the DRC and elsewhere in the region,” Amb Arietti wrote in his eight-section cable.

“To this entirely fanciful account of the origins and directing agencies of the RPF, we now turn to the Judge’s wildly inaccurate, not to say repugnant, description of the origins of the genocide and the carrying mass slaughter of civilians in 1994,” he writes, adding: At no point in the judge’s narrative is the Habyarimana regime or extremist elements within that government at fault … there is no planning for genocide, no carrying out of prepared massacres, nary mention of the insidious and all-encompassing psychological preparation of mass killing by media outlets controlled by extremist elements. No, in fact, according to the judge, everything is the fault of the RPA.”

The RPF/A fought a fierce 4-year war with the government of Juvenal Habyarimana from October 1990 to July 1994. Earlier, on April 6 a plane carrying President Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart was brought down, killing the two presidents and several aides. In the ensuing chaos, close to one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed in the genocide that was brought to an end in July 1994, by the RPF/A.

Since then Spain, which claims to have lost eight Spaniards working in Rwanda, issued indictments against the 40 RPA officers, claiming they had also killed hundreds of Hutus in revenge and Gen Karenzi Karake, who was at the time chief of intelligence between 1994 and 1997, was one of the indictees.

A decorated soldier, Gen Karenzi Karake one time served as the Deputy Commander of the Africa Union (AU) peacekeeping force in the troubled Darfur region of western Sudan.

Meanwhile, by filing time information indicated that Gen. Karenzi Karake will be arraigned in court onThursday, June 25, but authorities in Rwanda have lashed out against the general’s arrest, with foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo intimating on Twitter that the arrest is a politically motivated western conspiracy to demean Africans.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye has also weighed in, saying high-level talks between his government and the UK are going on, while dismissing the Spanish indictments as ‘illegitimate and politically motivated.’