Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

France releases Rwandan official

Rose Kabuye at a press conference in Paris (21 November 2008)
Rose Kabuye's arrest sparked anger among Rwandans

The French authorities say they will allow detained Rwandan government official Rose Kabuye to travel back to Rwanda for a holiday over Christmas.

She was arrested last month in Germany at France's request under an international warrant.

The French accuse the former Tutsi rebel commander of taking part in the 1994 killing of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

His death was the spark for the Rwandan genocide of some 800,000 people.

Ms Kabuye, the chief of protocol for current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has repeatedly protested her innocence.

Free woman

She was already on bail but she could not move out of France - these conditions have now been changed so that she can return to Rwanda.

She is a free woman and she is coming home
Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwandan Justice Minister
After the ruling was made, Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said she would be proven innocent and declared:

"The international arrest warrant will no longer be applied, she is a free woman and she is coming home.

"The information I have is that her initial appearance will be on 10 January next year. She will travel there on that date," he said.

Ms Kabuye was detained on arrival at Frankfurt airport in Germany in November following an arrest warrant issued by a French judge.

Her arrest sparked anger in Rwanda, with large protests by people asking for her immediate release.

She is one of nine senior Rwandan officials wanted over the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane.

President Kagame's Tutsi-led Rwanda Patriotic Front - a rebel group at the time, now the ruling party - has always strongly denied responsibility.

The RPF insists that the plane was shot down by Hutu extremists to give them a pretext to attack ethnic Tutsis and moderates.

Correspondents say Ms Kabuye, a former RPF guerrilla has heroic status in Rwanda.

She has served as an MP and mayor of the capital Kigali, and is one of President Kagame's closest aides.

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