December 11, 2015 / 4:51 PM / 4 years ago

Congo sets conditions for extradition of Rwanda genocide suspect

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s justice minister set conditions on Friday for the extradition of a suspect in the Rwandan genocide, saying Rwanda needs to respond to its own requests that suspects now on Rwandan soil be extradited to Congo.

Relations between Congo and Rwanda have been fraught since the 1990s, when Rwandan-backed rebellions in eastern Congo helped trigger a humanitarian catastrophe that killed millions from conflict, hunger and disease.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, a former Rwandan mayor under indictment for his alleged role in the country’s 1994 genocide, in which ethnic Hutu militias slaughtered some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, was arrested in eastern Congo at the weekend, according to Congolese officials.

Ntaganzwa was one of nine high-profile fugitives wanted for the genocide still at large. Rwanda has accused him of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination, murder and rape.

Congo’s justice minister, Alexis Thambwe, told Reuters that Ntaganzwa was flown on Friday from the eastern city of Goma to the capital, Kinshasa, for questioning. He said that Congo was prepared to extradite Ntaganzwa but first sought reciprocity from Rwandan authorities.

“We want Rwanda to respond very clearly this time to the arrest warrants that we have addressed to Rwanda against individuals who have done harm to our country and who circulate freely in Kigali,” he said.

Rwanda’s justice minister, Johnston Busingye, told Reuters that Congo’s obligation to extradite Ntaganzwa is clear and that Rwandan authorities have been in contact with their Congolese counterparts.

“Ladislas is the subject of (an) international arrest warrant,” Busingye said. “I would be surprised if they turn it into a local court issue.”

Thambwe could not say how many outstanding extradition requests Congo has with Rwanda. But he cited the example of Laurent Nkunda, the former leader of the CNDP, a Rwandan-backed group that waged an insurrection in eastern Congo from 2006 to 2009.

Nkunda was arrested by Rwandan authorities in 2009 and has been kept under house arrest in the capital, Kigali, ever since, according to the United Nations. Rwanda has repeatedly refused Congo’s extradition requests.

Asked about Nkunda’s case, Busingye would say only that he does not know Nkunda personally.

(The story was refiled to fix a typographical error in the second paragraph.)

Additional reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali, editing by Larry King

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