Rwandan spy chief freed as Spanish extradition bid fails


A Rwandan spy chief who was fighting extradition to Spain in connection with alleged war crimes has been freed by a British court.

Karenzi Karake, director-general of Rwanda's national intelligence agency was arrested in the UK in June on behalf of authorities in Spain, where he was wanted over alleged crimes against civilians.

He was accused of ordering massacres while head of military intelligence in the wake of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and of ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals working for aid charity Medicos del Mundo.

At Westminster Magistrates' Court in London yesterday, Senior District Judge Howard Riddle decided to discharge the European arrest warrant facing General Karake after hearing legal advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Karake's extradition could only be considered if it was determined his alleged behaviour was a crime in England and Wales as well as Spain, the CPS said. A spokesman said: "This was a complex case and we have worked swiftly to consider the UK law against the conduct alleged by the Spanish authorities in the European arrest warrant. 

"After careful consideration we do not believe an extradition offence can be established under UK law. The main reason is that the relevant laws on the conduct alleged in this case do not cover the acts of non-UK nationals or residents abroad.

"We felt it important to bring our findings to the attention of the District Judge as soon as possible in order to allow him to make a decision ahead of the full hearing scheduled for September."

Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, worked as part of Karake's defence team and helped him secure a £1 million bail in June.

Karake's arrest was condemned by Rwanda's High Commissioner in London, Williams Nkurunziza, as "an insult", and former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell claimed it was "politically motivated".

Mr Mitchell, who worked closely with the Rwandan government while a Cabinet minister, said the European arrest warrant system was being "abused", with the allegations pursued by supporters of the old regime in Rwanda.

At his court appearance in June, Karake's supporters began singing in the public gallery as he left the dock, while Rwanda's High Commissioner, Attorney General and the country's ambassador to Spain also sat in the well of the court.