Officials deny spy chief murder arrests

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Patrick Karegeya1 AP Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda's former spy chief, was found dead, possibly strangled, in a hotel in Sandton. Photo: AP

Johannesburg - Mozambique authorities are denying reports that they have arrested Rwandans suspected of assassinating Rwanda’s former spy chief Patrick Karegeya in Joburg last week.

Mozambique national police spokesman Pedro Cossa on Wednesday “categorically” denied any knowledge of the reported detention in Maputo, particularly of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Gakwerere.

According to Rwandan expatriate Gabriel Ihuriro, Gakwerere and two or three other individuals were arrested earlier this week in Maputo.

He said Gakwerere had also been arrested by South African authorities in 2010 after the attempted assassination of former Rwandan army chief General Kayumba Nyamwasa in Joburg in June 2010.

Ihuriro said Gakwerere had been released then for lack of evidence, “but later his name kept coming back as the accused in that case were questioned in court”.

The trial against the group of men accused of trying to kill Nyamwasa, who was shot in the driveway of his home, continues in the South Gauteng High Court later this month.

On Wednesday, The New Age newspaper reported that private investigator Chad Thomas had also said that Gakwerere and two other Rwandan nationals had been arrested in a Maputo hotel for the murder of Karegeya, who was found dead in his Sandton hotel room on New Year’s Day, apparently strangled.

Ihuriro said that he did not know Thomas or who had hired him to investigate the murder.

A Mozambique government spokesman, Deputy Justice Minister Alnerto Nkutumula, said he knew nothing about any arrests of Rwandan suspects.

He added that he had made a routine check of prisons – which his ministry controls – and found no Rwandan detainees.

Pitiless remarks

The foreign ministry also said it knew nothing about the arrests.

Rwandan expatriates in South Africa remain unconvinced by these denials, however, expressing suspicions that the arrested Rwandans might have bought their freedom – or that the Mozambique and South African governments might be keeping quiet about the arrests while they arrange for the Rwandans to be extradited to South Africa.

Meanwhile, Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, has shocked Rwanda’s opposition and some international observers with her pitiless remarks on Twitter about Karegeya’s death.

Asked for her government’s position on the death of someone who had served in the Rwandan army, she replied: “It’s not about how u start, it’s how u finish. This man was a self-declared enemy of my Gov & my country, U expect pity?”

This elicited an angry response from Karegeya’s son, Elvis, who lives in the US.

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