Exiled Rwandan ex-spymaster found murdered in South Africa
January 6, 2014 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The former head of Rwanda’s external intelligence agency, who had been branded an ‘enemy of the state’ by the Rwandan government, was murdered last week in South Africa. Police in Johannesburg said the body of Patrick Karegeya, 53, was found in a room at the luxury Michelangelo Towers Hotel, where he had gone to meet a fellow Rwandan. His neck was abnormally swollen and showed signs of strangulation; a rope and a bloodied towel were found tucked inside the hotel room’s safe. Karegeya was a leading member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was founded in 1987 in Uganda by Rwandan Tutsi refugees. In 1994, the RPA, led by Paul Kagame, took control of Rwanda, thus ending the genocide of up to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus, which had taken place earlier that year. Soon afterwards, Karegeya was named Director General of External Intelligence in the RPA, which was renamed to Rwandan Defense Forces. In 2004 however, after falling out with Kagame, who had become President of Rwanda in 2000, Karegeya was arrested, stripped of his rank of colonel, and served 18 months in prison for “insubordination and desertion”. He fled the country in 2007 and received political asylum in South Africa. The Rwandan government later claimed that Karegeya had been a double spy for South Africa. In 2010, Karegeya teamed up with General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who used to head the Rwandan Army, and had also escaped to South Africa after falling out with President Kagame. The two formed a new Rwandan opposition party in-exile, called the Rwanda National Congress. The response from the government in Kigali was to try Karegeya and Nyamwasa in absentia in a military court. They were both sentenced to lengthy prison terms for “promoting ethnic divisions” in the country. In 2011, the Rwandan government issued international arrest warrants for the two former military men, but South Africa refused to extradite them. Since then, General Nyamwasa has survived two assassination attempts against him in South Africa. The BBC notes that other former allies of President Kagame, who have received political asylum in the West, have been warned by Western intelligence agencies that their lives may be in danger. Others have already been killed, including Seth Sendashonga, Rwanda’s Interior Minister during the first years of the RPF government, who was shot dead in Kenya in 1996. South African media reports suggest that Karegeya had gone to the Michelangelo Towers to meet Appolo Kiririsi Gafaranga, a Rwandan “dealer in grey weapons and also drug trafficker convicted under UK law”. The latter is said to have “apparently convinced Karegeya of his bona fides as a fellow conspirator against Kagame’s authoritarian rule”. General Nyamwasa told reporters that there was evidence of “no less than three or four men”, linked with the government in Kigali, having been present at Karegeya’s killing. However, the Rwandan Ambassador to South Africa, Vincent Karega, dismissed Nyamwasa’s accusations as “an emotional reaction and opportunistic way of playing politics”. The police investigation continues.