Spanish indictments on Rwandan officials â€œnull and voidâ€
The 40 Rwandan officials indicted by a mafia Spanish judge cannot be tried in his kangaroo court for the simple fact that the law he is basing on has been struck off the book from the countryâ€™s laws by his own parliament.
The controversy surrounding the indictments arises following the contested arrest in London of Gen Karenzi Karake, on an outdated arrest warrant which had not been deactivated from the EU Interpol system. Gen Karake is the head of Rwandaâ€™s intelligence system NISS. He was in London on routine trip.
The judge, who issued the indictments back in January 2008, confirmed to media on Monday that Gen Karake had indeed been arrested. The UK said it was waiting for all legal documents necessary to keep Gen Karake in custody. He appears in court on Thursday this week, according to reports.
Rwandan justice minister Johnston Busingye, who was himself in Europe for official trip, has travelled to London and is handling the case. However, the arrest itself has stunned Rwandan officials because the same case â€“ like all the other 39, became null and void the following year, out of Spanish embarrassment that the mafia judges were turning the countryâ€™s laws into witch-hunt tools for interest groups.
In early 2009, a year after the Rwandan indictments, lawmakers in the Spanish parliament began a process to reform the judiciary. Among the laws they wanted off the book, was the â€˜universal jurisdictionâ€™ laws. In unprecedented period, as passing laws usually takes months or even years, parliament passed the changes.
On 19th May 2009, a proposal introduced by the opposition at the time was voted through on by 339 of the 350 lawmakers to remove the powers on judges to engage in â€œjudicial tourismâ€.
Spanish judges have used this universal jurisdiction over the years to pursue cases against the so called alleged human rights violators in several countries, including China on Tibet, Rwanda, Israel, the United States, Chile and Argentina.
Government in Rwanda has reacted with fury and has since mobilised support on the African continent and countries like the U.S and Israel that have had their officials in the same situation, to disregard the indictments. At some point, then justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama called the move â€œjudicial madnessâ€.
With the changes introduced by the Spanish parliament, judge MerellesÂ would have to come up with very convincing evidence to merit acceptance by Spanish courts, a deep assessment of the proposal suggests.
Recent efforts to investigate former United States officials and former and current Israeli officials caused some diplomatic embarrassment and prompted calls within the Spanish government for a change in the law. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ãngel Moratinos back in 2009 reportedly told Israeli officials he would seek to have the law changed â€” a comment the government later denied, The New York Times reported.
Baltasar GarzÃ³n, Spainâ€™s crusading judge, in March 2009 sought to open a criminal investigation into allegations that six former Bush administration officials violated international human rights law by creating a legal framework to justify torture at the prison at GuantÃ¡namo Bay in Cuba. Prosecutors rejected the case, which named former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzalez, among others, and passed it to another judge.
Judge GarzÃ³n then sought to open another investigation, based on allegations of torture made by four former detainees, which did not name any specific United States official, the paper reported.
A similar proposal has been launched by the French government to review laws introducing measures that would control the power of Franceâ€™s courts to pursue cases against people accused of crimes against humanity in other countries. There has however been very minimal progress, which will put accusations against nine Rwandan officials to rest, at least for now.
Do we have to live with this madness until when – it MUST stop!