Suspect Karenzi Karake: only worth one million £ of bail

Lt Gen Karenzi Karake

The atmosphere seemed strange in the courtroom this Thursday 25/06/15.

It was like I was assisting for a second time to the funeral of my friend Emmanuel Gapyisi, almost 22 years ago.

I had previously been to see his body lying in the coffin in the sitting room of his house at Kimihurura in Kigali.

He had been assassinated by an RPF killing squad led by the defendant in the courtroom at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.

It was in May 1993 that the assassination had occurred. It was going to be one of many that would target Hutu politicians.

Emmanuel Gapyisi had been killed by several gunshots while he was entering his compound in that evening.

Unfortunately the defendant was not appearing in court for that murder, nor the long list that spans several years, covering all categories of crimes and touching a variety of nationalities, but only for the Spanish victims.

The Spanish prosecutor seeking the extradition of the defendant to Spain argued strongly his case insisting on the fact that he was only after justice for the victims’ families.

The defendant’s lawyers from Cheri Blair’s law firm based their arguments on two important elements:

  1. Official rank of the defendant which for them corresponds to the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the case of Rwanda;
  2. Respect due to the Rwandan nation in the world, because of its role and democratic character (I almost laughed thinking here on the forced signatures seeking a third term for president Paul Kagame).

For these main reasons, and many others, the lawyers of the defendant asked for a bail worth £200,000. The judge, given the seriousness of the alleged crimes, requested £1,000,000 for a bail which was accepted. However, the conditions accompanying it include for the defendant:

  • Having an electronic tag 24/7
  • Mobile phone which never runs out of batteries
  • Reporting to the Barnet police station daily
  • Not going near an airport or any point of exit
  • Not holding any travel document with any different name
  • Curfew from 8:00 pm until 8:00 am.
  • Not leaving London until next hearing in October 2015.

When the judge asked the defendant if he agreed with the conditions of the bail, he accepted.

On listening to the conditions as read by the judge, I thought the defendant would’ve been better off remaining in custody, because considered the level of liability he represents for president Kagame today, anything could happen to him while he is outside.

What might happen to the defendant once out on bail, he might be asked by Kagame to use his intelligence skills to organise the assassinations of his opponents living in UK.

He won’t this time have any excuse in failing because he will be a UK resident for the next four months at least, though with some restrictions.

Unless he fulfils that task, president Kagame might find that he was not worth the 1 million £ bail, – then get rid of the liability he represents.

He was compared to the CIA director by his lawyers. In my view, the British judiciary should’ve requested more for his bail since it accepted to consider the comparison.

But at the end, that would’ve been money better spent for the interests of all Rwandans (not the ones necessarily around Kagame), whatever the amount, if in the first place the alleged crimes hadn’t been committed.

Ambrose Nzeyimana