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Cablegate: Senior Rwandan Official Arrested in Germany

VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0796/01 3151633
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101633Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5738
INFO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0333
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0432
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 1245
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2020
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0572
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0346
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1351
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0605
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0058

C O N F I D E N T I A L KIGALI 000796

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV RW
SUBJECT: SENIOR RWANDAN OFFICIAL ARRESTED IN GERMANY

REF: KIGALI 620

Classified By: Ambassador Stuart Symington for Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

1. (C) Summary. German authorities in Frankfurt arrested
close Kagame confidant and Chief of Rwandan Presidential
Protocol, Rose Kabuye, under a European arrest warrant, based
on indictments issued by a French judge in 2006. Kabuye
requested transfer to France, where she will answer charges
that she participated in the shooting down of the Habyarimana
presidential jet in 1994, an event which touched off the
genocide. GOR officials will continue to assert that the
case represents an abuse of jurisdiction by a French
government unable to acknowledge its own failures and
complicity in the genocide. Rwanda's efforts to cement its
own economic future by doing such things as begin today a
land title process for genocide survivors and perpetrators,
or a novel power generation scheme for Lake Kivu methane,
continue to be shunted aside and undermined by ill-conceived
actions such as this arrest. End summary.

2. (C) Rose Kabuye, Chief of Protocol at the Rwandan Presidency and a highly-trusted member of President Kagame's inner-most circle, was arrested in Germany on November 9 while advancing a visit by President Kagame to the Frankfort stock exchange. Kabuye had previously visited Germany this year as part of an official Kagame visit, and had traveled with the immediate presidential traveling party to benefit rom the German version of "entourage" immunity.

3. (C) Kabuye and eight others were accused in 2006 by French terrorism Judge Bruguiere of having participated in the shooting down of President Habyarimana's jet in April of 1994, the event which touched off the genocide. Bruguiere's indictment resulted in the issuance of European arrest warrants. During the past two years, the British, Dutch, Belgian and German governments have issued Kabuye diplomatic and/or transit visas allowing her to advance Kagame's trips or make connections in European airports for onward travel to the U.S. or elsewhere. The Rwandans have largely rejected the Europeans' (specifically the French) contention that they
can do little to influence the judicial process to have the
indictments overturned. In turn, the GOR response has been
to assert the speciousness of the Bruguiere indictments
within the African Union and elsewhere. The GOR has sought
to quash the indictments in French courts. The GOR claims
that European governments are furthering the agendas of
various Hutu Power organizations such as the Democratic Force
for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the rump genocidal armed
group ensconced in eastern Congo by these indictments, and by
their failure to arrest and extradite to Rwanda genocide
suspects.

4. (C) These indictments have weighed heavily on the GOR,
as have the February 2008 Spanish indictments on genocide and
other charges of an additional 40 senior Rwandans (some also
are on the French list). The GOR asserts these two sets of
indictments are inappropriate usages of universal
jurisdiction (jurisdiction not based on links of
territoriality or nationality as to the crime, suspect or
victim), arguing that only international bodies such as the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or the
International Criminal Court (ICC) should hear such cases.
International Criminal Court (ICC) should hear such cases.
The French indictments concern the death of the French air
crew on Rwandan soil, while the Spanish indictments concern
in part the death of Spanish citizens in Rwanda and the Congo
-- neither case is a pure expression of universal
jurisdiction.

5. (C) Rose Kabuye, herself a war hero in the effort by the
Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) to stop the genocide and defeat
the Hutu Power rump government, has also expressed to embassy
contacts her weariness with the French indictments. Following her return from UNGA-related travel in October, she confided - after the Dutch Embassy cautioned her not to transit Amsterdam en route to the U.S. - it would be better just to travel to France to fight the indictment and have the case heard. According to another highly-placed source in the Presidency, Kagame has himself expressed his fatigue with the burden of working to achieve the entry into various capitals of indicted officials when official GOR visits are planned and had suggested to Kabuye that other protocol officers
begin to gain greater experience in organizing his travel.
In comments both to the press and the DCM on November 9,
Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in some ways the
arrest was a "blessing in disguise" as the truth would
finally be known. Kabuye has waived any right to contest her
detention in Germany, opting instead to be transferred
immediately to France where she and at least two others on
the Bruguiere indictments already have legal counsel. As
this is written, a large crowd, several thousand strong,
peacefully gathered in front of the German embassy to voice
its (government-organized) concern at the arrest of Kabuye.

6. (SBU) Comment. The timing of Kabuye,s arrest, while
seemingly unconnected to other events, comes after German
courts last week released two genocide suspects previously
detained upon request by Rwandan authorities, including FDLR
Secretary General Callixte Mbarushimana, who was picked up
while traveling to Germany from France to visit FDLR
President Ignace Murwanashyaka. Also last week, ten French
citizens accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide in the
Mucyo Commission report (ref A) filed a libel suit against
the Kagame government. In both instances, these legal issues
are taking place against the backdrop of increased
international attention, including on the part of the French
government, to try to resolve the deteriorating situation in
eastern Congo. Kabuye,s arrest and the release of the two
genocide suspects in Germany will reinforce Rwandan
suspicions that European governments are not serious about
addressing what they underscore is the fundamental problem in
the Great Lakes region -- namely the ongoing presence of the
genocidal forces in eastern Congo.

7. (SBU) Moreover, the GOR has aggressively asserted the
unfairness of the two sets of indictments as well as the
right of its officials to travel to EU nations without
restriction on what it regards as official business. A
reported warning of the German government in this particular
case went unheeded, perhaps purposefully so. Both the French
government and the GOR may now get what they purport to want
-- a full hearing on the merits of the alleged participation
(of at least one RPA suspect) in the 1994 shootdown of the
Habyarimana plane. The GOR will likely express considerable
unhappiness with a French court hearing this case, and
criticize the French government for continuing to deny its
own failures and complicity in the genocide. Kabuye's
reputation as a fearless fighter will only be enhanced by her
apparent willingness to subject herself immediately to the
French courts. Today, Rwanda began to issue its first land
titles to farmers in an area with both former genocidaires
and survivors. Last week, as violence spiked in North Kivu,
Rwanda began generating electricity with a pilot plant using
methane gas from Lake Kivu. In both events, government
ministers decried the continued failure of the regional and
international community to "turn the page." End comment.

8. (U) Text of GOR press release follows:

Begin Text:

Kigali November 9, 2008

The Government of Rwanda wishes to inform the public that the
Director General of the State Protocol, Mrs. Rose Kabuye was
arrested in Germany today November 9, 2008 while on official
business. The arrest was effected in connection with a
warrant put forth in 2006 by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere of
warrant put forth in 2006 by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere of
France for her alleged implication in a 1994 plane crash
which killed Rwanda's then-president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Mrs. Kabuye appeared in court earlier today, where the judge
offered her the option to contest the warrant in Germany or
face it in France, she chose the latter.

Mrs. Kabuye was not surprised by the arrest; among other
warnings, attempts to stop her last trip to Germany in April
this year and just a few days ago through official
communications from Germany.

Mrs. Kabuye is innocent, which is why she undertook the trip
despite warnings, and ultimately why she is ready to face
trial in France.

The Government of Rwanda believes that this is a political
game designed to blur the truth and weaken the Government.

The arrests warrants have been contested in courts in
Belgium, France, The Hague; and they were condemned by all
Heads of State of the African Union.

The Government of Rwanda therefore continues to be
disappointed that mass murders of the 1994 genocide continue
to enjoy freedom and protection in European capitals,
including Germany and France even as they pursue their
extermination plans on European soil.

The Government of Rwanda, once again, strongly condemns the
judicial bullying it,s been subjected to by European judges
and the perversion of the principle of universal jurisdiction
by some powerful nations.

End Text.
SYMINGTON

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