By James Munyaneza
Rwanda’s Ambassador to the US James Kimonyo and his team have continued efforts to secure the extradition of Genocide suspect Isaac Kamali.
Kamali, who is number 27 on Rwanda’s most wanted Genocide fugitives’ list, was arrested by US security on Wednesday en route from France as he tried to enter the US through Philadelphia airport.
He was traveling on a French passport.
The New Times has learnt that Kimonyo is already in contact with the US’ Department of Justice and the Department of State over the matter, and that he had already served them with information about Kamali’s role in the Genocide.
Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, who has for most of this week been in New York, US where he addressed members of the UN Security Council, is working closely with the embassy to secure the 58-year old fugitive.
“There are some contacts going on. Our Embassy has provided them (both US government departments) with necessary information, and we are waiting for a response. I hope in a day or two, we shall have received the feedback,” Ngoga told this reporter by telephone from the US.
The extradition is threatened by the fact that the suspect holds a French passport, as well as lack of an extradition treaty between Rwanda and the US. However, Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said on Thursday that extradition was possible since the suspect is accused of committing Genocide. The US is signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention which obligates all signatories to ensure that Genocide culprits are brought to book. However, Washington D.C can also decide to prosecute him or transfer him to the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania.
Meanwhile, an official at the US Embassy in Kigali told The New Times yesterday that Kamali “attempted to enter the United States on June 20 under the terms of the Visa Waiver Programme, which permits bearers of passports from certain countries to enter the United States without a visa.”
“US Department of Homeland Security officials at the point of attempted entry identified the individual as a possible match with a suspect included on the Interpol watch list,” Brian George, the embassy’s Public Affairs Officer (PAO) said.
Rwanda accuses France of harbouring a number of Genocide suspects, some of whom are on the list of 110 most wanted people for whom Kigali issued red notices around the world last year.
By press time, it could not established whether France had already intervened to claim Kamali, who was until his arrest, working with a rehabilitation centre in Beviers in southern France, according to sources.
Classified under Category I of Genocide suspects, Kamali is charged with several counts including Genocide, complicity in Genocide, conspiracy to commit Genocide, murder, extermination and inciting and abetting to commit Genocide.
During the Genocide, he was a senior government official and an influential member of ruling MRND party which orchestrated the killings that claimed at least one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Kamali is, among others, accused of participating in acts of killing, looting and destruction of Tutsis and their property in the former Nyabikenke Commune (now in Muhanga district) where he hails.
He is also implicated in the killings of hundreds of people in Nyamirambo and Kicukiro in the Capital Kigali.