•Seek speedy warrants against indicted French
PARLIAMENT - Members of Parliament yesterday condemned the recent arrest of Rose Kabuye, the Director of State Protocol saying that the arrest was a serious abuse of the country’s sovereignty.
This was during a joint Parliamentary session that brought together both Chambers of Parliament to get updates on the progress made since Kabuye’s arrest.
During the session, MPs were briefed by Rosemary Museminali, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama.
In their different interventions, several lawmakers called upon the Rwandan judicial authorities to speed up the publication of indictments and arrest warrants for the French officials implicated in a report compiled by an independent commission that was charged with adducing evidence on the role played by France in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
“What is lacking in order for our judiciary to indict the implicated French officials? We have concrete evidence in the report attesting to the role these people played in the Genocide…we do not have empty files as what is contained in the file they have against our officers,” said Hon. Jean Baptiste Rucibigango.
Kabuye was arrested on Sunday in the German city of Frankfurt. She had goneto prepare for President Paul Kagame’s visit to the country.
She was arrested in reaction to a controversial indictment issued against her and eight other Rwandan officials by French judge Jean Louis Bruguiere accusing them of having played a role in shooting down the plane that was carrying former president Juvenal Habyarimana.
During the session that convened at the Parliamentary building, both ministers assured the parliamentarians that the arrest had received condemnation from different countries and the African Union.
According to both ministers, following Kabuye’s arrest, the AU sent a Note Verbale to both the governments of Germany and France and the European Union contesting the arrest which they said was an abuse to international justice.
On the issuing of the warrants against the French officials, Karugarama said that they are still analysing the documents to ensure that the imminent arrest warrants are more effective.
The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) recently disclosed that it would soon make public, names of 23 French officials who are supposed to answer for the role they played in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide that left over a million people dead.
The ministers also informed the House that all arrangements have been made to have Kabuye transferred to France where she opted to be taken to plead her case.
“As of this morning, a German court had completed all legal requirements to have her transferred,” Karugarama told the lawmakers yesterday.
The MPs were also informed of the ongoing talks between the African Union and the European Union regarding the misuse of universal jurisdiction by some European judges.
This was following the commitment made by African Heads of State in a recent AU summit held in Egypt to make the matter continental.
“Two meetings have been convened between officials of the two blocs and there is progress. Another one is expected to take place this month... the interesting thing is Jean Ping, the Chairman of the African Commission is actively involved,” said Museminali.
MPs had also asked the ministers to elaborate on the diplomatic impasse between Germany and Rwanda following Kabuye’s denial of functional immunity by German police when she was arrested.
Museminali said that the decision by government to recall Rwanda’s ambassador in Berlin and sending the German Ambassador back home was normal and is provided for under the Vienna Convention.
“It was reciprocity to the events that unfolded. They breached the Vienna Convention in arresting Kabuye who clearly had diplomatic status contrary to what they say…she was even arrested from the diplomatic lounge of the airport, a place not reserved to people on non-official visit,” said Museminali.
She however dispelled rumours by some international media which claim that Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with Germany, saying that what was done was to send away only the Ambassador and not the whole mission.
“Other diplomats are still around and ours are in Berlin; it is only the Ambassadors who are not there but even the embassies are open,” she said.
During the session, Karugarama, who is also the Attorney General, said that Kabuye may serve as a scapegoat to expose the French machinations surrounding the case.
“That is why she even chose to go to Germany despite warnings that she would be arrested upon arrival…the case, once it gets to court, will make the world see how fictitious Bruguiere’s document is,” Karugarama said.
On worries presented by MPs requesting for guarantees of Kabuye’s safety while in detention, Museminali said that a diplomat in charge of following up on a daily basis, has been assigned to her in Frankfurt.
Karugarama added that it might have been possible for Kabuye, a former MP in the transitional parliament, to have negotiated for her release in a German court “but she wanted the matter of the abuse of international jurisdiction to be solved from its roots. Contesting for her release would have been a solution to a symptom of the problem which she did not want.”
Several developments have unfolded following her arrest and the most recent is the retraction of testimony by Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, the key witness in the case whose travel to France to record his framed up testimony was facilitated by operatives of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
FDLR is an outfit composed of perpetrators of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.