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Another Rwandan is kidnapped in Africa: Kagame agents suspected (Includes interview)

The kidnapping of Rwandan national Jean Chrysostome Ntirugiribambe in Nairobi has been widely condemned by political activists and defense lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) where the victim worked for years as a legal investigator.
“It is our information that he was seized by Rwandan intelligence agents, possibly with the connivance of local police in Nairobi,” Christopher Black, a Canadian defense lawyer who worked with Ntirugiribambe at the ICTR, wrote in a letter obtained by Digital Journal.
On July 7, Black officially requested Kenya’s attorney general and ministers of interior and foreign affairs to investigate the matter.
The latest abduction appeared to be part of a wider, relentless crackdown on Rwandan refugees and dissidents and comes eight months after the kidnapping in Nairobi of another high profile Rwandan asylum seeker.
In November suspected Rwandan agents seized Emile Gafirita, a former Tutsi soldier due to testify against Kagame in a French inquiry into the 1994 downing of a plane carrying the former Rwandan president, an incident that sparked the 1994 genocide.
In a series of interviews with this journalist, family and lawyers say that a group of armed men seized Ntirugiribambe on June 23 and forced him at gunpoint into a car in front of witnesses on the street. Kenyan police have acknowledged the kidnapping occurred but have refused official comment on the case, pending an investigation.
However a Kenyan police officer said the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi would be in a position to provide details on Ntirugiribambe’s disappearance.
“The Rwandan embassy would be able to give you that information. It would be better to call them,” the officer, requesting anonymity, told Digital Journal.
Sources close to intelligence in Rwanda said Rwandan government agents were indeed behind the abduction.
One of the sources told Digital Journal that Ntirugiribambe’ kidnapping was facilitated by Lt Col James Burabyo, a military attaché at the Rwandan embassy in neighboring Uganda, under the instructions of Jack Nziza. Nziza is a notorious figure that has worked in Rwandan intelligence for decades and played a crucial role in killing, abducting and torturing perceived opponents of Kagame. Rwanda’s external intelligence chief, Francis Mutiganda, was also allegedly involved in organizing the abduction, the sources indicated.
Lt Colonel Mutiganda is a much-feared individual who recently worked in UN peacekeeping before returning home to oversee the country’s external intelligence, a branch long suspected of carrying out murderous operations abroad in conjunction with Rwandan embassies.
A UN officer who worked closely with Mutiganda said the UN department of peacekeeping DPKO failed to properly vet the Rwandan colonel before hiring him and only became aware after the fact that he had allegedly directed a killing squad in Rwanda. The UN wrote an internal report on Mutiganda’s criminal record following his appointment as deputy chief of DPKO’s military planning services.
Despite the report, DPKO was ultimately unwilling to fire Mutiganda because Rwanda exerted undue influence at the United Nations as a result of its troop contributions to peacekeeping operations, the UN officer explained.
Mutiganda was also accused of threatening colleagues at DPKO. “I can tell you that a German Waffen-SS officer looks a Kindergarten cop compared to Francis Mutiganda,” the UN official told Digital Journal.
Mutiganda and Nziza work under the authority of an umbrella spy agency in Rwanda called the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). The head of NISS, Lt General Karenzi Karake, was arrested in London last month on a European arrest warrant issued by a Spanish court invoking universal jurisdiction. Karake now faces possible extradition to Spain for having allegedly organized the murders of three Spanish nationals in the late 1990s in Rwanda. He also is accused of having ordered large-scale massacres of Hutu civilians following the genocide.
Jean Chrystostome Ntirugiribambe’s daughter said her father’s kidnapping had plunged the family into a state of anguish, following the recent death of their mother.
“It’s been so hard to deal with. We are very worried,” she said in an interview. The daughter said Kenyan police had conceded that a police officer in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city, appeared to have played a role in the kidnapping.
Rwandan agents have often been accused of bribing local police to assist in their operations.
Lawyer Christopher Black described Ntirugiribambe as an “intelligent, self-effacing, gentle man,” and a vital member of his legal team that had secured the full acquittal at the ICTR of General Augustin Ndindiliyimana in 2014.
Another colleague said Ntirigiribambe had been recently considered for a security job with the United Nations in Burundi, but that Rwanda had allegedly attempted to sabotage his candidacy, as election-related violence escalated and tensions flared along the Rwanda-Burundi border.
Meanwhile the president of the Association of Defense Attorneys at the ICTR, John Philpot contacted Kenya’s attorney general on Friday to express grave concern over the abduction.
Philpot, a Montreal lawyer, said that “Rwanda has become an outlaw state by committing crimes of murder, assault or kidnapping in Kenya, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to mention a few.”
Rwanda was roundly criticized last year following the assassination of Kagame’s former colleague, ex spymaster Patrick Karegeya. Karegeya broke with the regime in 2007 and fled to South Africa to help set up an opposition party. On New Year’s Day 2014, he was found strangled in a Johannesburg hotel room. Diplomats from the Rwandan embassy in South Africa were later expelled.
Rarely do disappearances and kidnappings of Rwandan dissidents garner international attention, however. In August 2014, a Rwandan human rights activist named Emmanuel Munyaruguru who holds Norwegian citizenship quietly went missing in Uganda after traveling to a refugee camp in Nakivale and has not been seen since.
In October 2013, Rwandan agents assisted by Ugandan police kidnapped Kagame’s former bodyguard Joel Mutabazi from a UN safe house in Kampala. The kidnappers also seized Mutabazi’s younger brother Jackson Kalemera during the operation, brought him to Rwanda and tried to force him to testify in a trial against his brother. Family members in Uganda have had no news of Jackson for months and fear he has been killed.
More recently, Rwanda has been accused of trying to persuade police forces and governments in Africa to deport a number of high profile Rwandan refugees who are activists or survivors of massacres by Kagame’s troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In May 2015, police in Brazzaville arrested a Rwandan refugee activist named Jean Leonard Mbarusha, claiming to be acting on an Interpol alert. According to the refugee’s family, police later said they were detaining him because of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However no arrest warrants for Mbarusha have been issued by either Interpol in Lyon or the ICC in The Hague.
Nor was Mbarusha investigated by the ICTR or Rwanda’s traditional Gacaca courts, his supporters say.
When contacted by Digital Journal, Congolese police could not explain why Mbarusha was being detained. Officer Lt. Jean Marie Ntsinda said the case was being handled by Congo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose officials subsequently met with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in Brazzaville.
In letters obtained by this journalist from his family, Mbarusha said that Congolese police have tortured him in jail. He also explained that he is Hutu refugee survivor of killings by Kagame’s troops during the 1996-97 invasion of the DRC .
In 2010, a UN report concluded that Kagame’s army committed crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against Hutu civilians in the DRC jungle.

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