The South African lawyer representing the family of Rwanda’s former intelligence chief Col. Patrick Karegeya wants a trial instead of an ongoing probe.
Col. Karegeya was killed in a Johannesburg hotel on December 31, 2013 by suspected Rwandan government mercenaries.
Gerrie Nel, an advocate with AfriForum says Rwanda’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has had enough evidence for five years to warrant a trial for the murder of prominent Rwandan dissident.
Nel also goes on to accuse the South African government of trying to ‘cover up’ what he is called the ‘murder a political assassination’. Several South African media outlets say, Nel asked a Randburg magistrate during the inquest to stop the judicial inquest into Karegeya’s death.
Nel said the police and the NPA had been sitting on enough evidence to prosecute Karegeya’s suspected killers for five years but had “inexplicably” not done so.
Nel, a former star public prosecutor, is representing Karegeya’s family and other Rwandan exiles in this case. He suggested the inquest was a delaying tactic to avoid prosecuting the four Rwandans suspected of strangling Karegeya.
Nel asked the Magistrate, Jeremiah Matopa to cancel the inquest so the four murder suspects, all Rwandans, could be prosecuted immediately and extradited. He said the inquest was superfluous because the police had known, for the past five years, everything that an inquest was supposed to establish.
“They knew who was killed, how he was killed, when he was killed and by whom,” Nel, a former public prosecutor and high-profile figure in South Africa said.
He was chief prosecutor in the trial of the sprinter Oscar Pistorius for the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2014, but later left government service to work at AfriForum, where he is representing members of the Rwandan diaspora in Johannesburg.
The probe could further strain relations between the two countries.
Thirty witnesses are expected to be interviewed by the probe which may also lead to criminal charges, according to the South Africa’s prosecution authority.
However, the timing of the inquest has been questioned by many in Kigali as a plot arrest dissidents based in South Africa. Others say the move is intended to disrupt efforts to repair relations between South Africa and Rwanda.
The relationship between the two countries has been strained since South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats in the wake of attempt on the life of Kayumba Nyamwasa, Rwanda’s former army chief of staff who is also exiled in South Africa.
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