The body of a former Rwandan spy chief and a prominent opposition member was found strangled in a hotel in South Africa, where his opposition party say he was living in exile for several years, AFP reported.
“The Rwandan opposition is deeply saddened to announce the assassination of Colonel Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg,” the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) said in a statement on Thursday. “His body was found in a hotel (Michelangelo Towers) where he went for a meeting.”
The RNC statement said investigations had found “overwhelming evidence of the involvement of Rwandan intelligence operatives in those attempts”.
Frank Ntwali, the opposition party chairman told AFP news agency they suspected Karegeya, 53, was killed by agents of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Karegeya served as head of external intelligence for nearly a decade in the Kagame government, before being demoted to army spokesman and was later arrested and jailed. He was stripped of his rank of colonel in 2006 and fled into exile the following year.
Another prominent Rwandan opposition dissident in South Africa, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived two assassination attempts in June 2010. Rwanda accused Nyamwasa of terrorism and trying to destabilize the country.
In 2010 the deputy leader of Rwanda’s opposition Democratic Green Party, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was found dead with his head almost severed from his body near the Rwandan city of Butare, Bloomberg reported.
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Last month Rwanda’s Supreme Court extended a jail sentence for former presidential candidate, Victoire Ingabire, to 15 years from eight years, The East African reported in November. She had been charged with threatening state security and conspiring against the government.
Rwanda has vehemently denied involvement in the attacks.
Bloomberg reported the South African Police Service saying in an emailed statement that “Preliminary investigations revealed that (Karegeya’s) neck was swollen,”. they also said they found a towel with blood and a rope in the hotel room safe.
Opponents to Rwandan President Paul Kagame “aren’t safe in South Africa and any other place in the world,” Nyamwasa, a former chief of staff in the Rwandan army, told bloomberg.
Kagame has been the Rwandan President since April 2000. His ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party won 41 out of 53 seats at the Sept. 16 parliamentary elections. While he has been praised for rebuilding the economy, human rights activists have criticized him for cracking down on civil rights and silencing dissent.
“Rwanda is essentially a hard-line, one-party, secretive police state with a facade of democracy,” according to a 2010 briefing note co-authored by Karegeya, Nyamwasa and two other senior former Rwandan officials. “President Kagame and the ruling party that he leads depend on repression to stay in power.”