6 November 2017

Rwanda: Kigali Puzzled Over Capture of Those Who Aided Arrest and Repatriation of Wanted Fugitive

Photo: The East African
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (left) and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni.

Rwanda is watching events in Uganda with growing anxiety after Kampala charged a number of high ranking police officers and two civilians with aiding in the abduction of a Rwandan fugitive to Kigali.

The Ugandan military arrested and paraded in the military court last Friday: Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, Senior Superintendent of Police of Police Nixon Karuhanga Agasire, Detective Assistant of Police Benon Atwebembeire, Detective Assistant Maganda James, Special Police Constable Faisal Katende, Detective Corporal Amon Kwarisiima, Rwandan National Rene Rutagungira and DRC national Bahati Mugenga on charges related to the October 2013 kidnap and repatriation to Rwanda of Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former aide to President Paul Kagame.

Kigali is baffled because it claims Mr Mutabazi was on the Interpol Red list and his repatriation to Rwanda followed normal extradition procedures between the two countries.

Kigali argues that it has repatriated more fugitives to Uganda (18) against the eight including Mutabazi that Uganda has so far returned to Rwanda.

"The claim of kidnapping is difficult for us to understand given that Uganda willingly fulfilled its legal obligation under both international law and the existing bilateral extradition MoU on exchange of fugitives to facilitate the apprehension and hand-over of Mutabazi to Rwandan authorities," Assistant Commissioner of Police and Rwanda National Police Spokesperson Theos Badege told The EastAfrican.

Mr Badege said Rwanda had alerted Uganda about the presence of a fugitive in Kampala and he was subsequently handed over legally to Kigali in accordance with the obligations of every member of Interpol. "We acquired global tracking under the Interpol framework where a wanted person is placed on the Red Notice Alert once it is proven that there are strong legal grounds against them. This is the process that led to the issuance of the Red Notice Alert, and this was demonstrated in court during Mutabazi's trial," he added.

Rwanda is also puzzled by what it describes as the kidnaping and subsequent appearance in military court of its national Rene Rutagungira who was abducted from a bar in Kampala in August.

For nearly three months, Uganda had been telling the Rwanda High Commission in Kampala that Mr Rutagungira was not in their custody only for him to surface on October 27 at the military court.

The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the extradition of suspects in 2006. But 127 international arrest warrants for genocide fugitives in Uganda have yet to be acted on by authorities. Rwanda says not a single genocide fugitive living in Uganda has been extradited to Rwanda.

Kigali is in a dilemma over how to respond to these developments, as it could either be hostility by individuals within the Ugandan security system or an overall policy shift towards Rwanda by the Ugandan government. Officials from Uganda have been down-playing the reported tensions.

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