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Rwanda: scepticism for arrests in journalist killing 0

KIGALI — According to AFP, the Rwandan authorities said they have arrested two people in connection with the killing of Jean-Leonard Rugambage, a journalist critical of President Paul Kagame‘s government, and that one of the two has confessed.

The journalist, who had accused the Rwandan government of being behind an assassination attempt on a dissident general in South Africa, was gunned down in Kigali on Thursday.

“One of the two people implicated has admitted guilt,” Internal Security Minister Moussa Fazil Harelimana told journalists. “He told the police he committed the act to take revenge against this journalist who killed his brother in the 1994 Tutsi genocide,” the minister said.

But a statment of the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed scepticism about the arrests and called on authorities to disclose details of their investigation.

“The burden is on the Rwandan government to conduct a thorough, transparent investigation and to produce credible results,” CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said. “We call on Rwandan authorities to heed the words of President Kagame who pledged during his monthly press briefing on Monday that the government would ‘get to the bottom’ of this matter.”

The situation of Rwanda is getting more complicated. According to Africa Confidential, the South African police said they had arrested six suspects in the Saturday shooting of the exiled Rwandan army chief Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwas, an attack his wife claims was an assassination attempt by the government of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame. All of them are former officials of the Rwandan Army (APR). Two of them have been released without formal accusations, while the others will be sentenced this week.

The International community, as well as European Ministers for foreign affairs – in particular from France – have remained in an embarassed silence.

The Rwandan government, which has requested Lt-Gen Nyamwasa’s extradition in relation to grenade blasts in the capital, Kigali, in February, says it had nothing to do with the attack on him, nor with the fatal shooting last week of a journalist who wrote a story saying the government was behind the attack.

However, the former Rwandan general who was shot in Johannesburg earlier this month, had the refugee status in SA, which is now under question.

His stay in SA came to light after he was shot and injured about a week ago as he drove home to Melrose Arch from a shopping trip with his wife.

SA Justice department spokesman Tlali Tlali last week said South Africa had received a request for Lt-Gen Nyamwasa’s extradition. SA has no extradition treaty with Rwanda. The authorities had not yet made a decision and were verifying the law “in instances where there is a request for extradition of a person who has been granted asylum status”, he said.

Lt-Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa is one of 40 Rwandans named in a 2008 warrant issued by a Spanish judge.

Rights groups in SA want the government to explain how he was granted asylum. South African law prohibits granting residency to human rights violators and other fugitives from the law.

“The implications of the Spanish indictment are that he could have his refugee status withdrawn, but whether the state goes through with this is uncertain,” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, head of the refugee and migrant rights programme at Lawyers for Human Rights.

Spain, along with France, seeks Lt-Gen Nyamwasa’s extradition to face prosecution for international crimes.

“The Karama Training Wing units and Col Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col Mugambage were ordered to carry out the cleansing or ‘gukubura’ of all the Hutus from the regions of Byumba, Umutara and Kubumgo,” the Spanish indictment says.

Others named in the indictment are former APR leader and current Rwandan president Paul Kagame.

Rwanda faces a presidential election in August and rights group Human Rights Watch has accused the country’s government of seeking to silence critics in the run-up to the poll.


(Sources: AFP, Reuters,, Business Day, Africa Confidential, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders)

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi