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Rwanda ex-army chief's refugee status questioned in S.Africa
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg (AFP) Oct 29, 2012

A migrants' rights lobby group on Monday challenged in court South Africa's decision to grant refugee status to a former Rwandan general, saying he was suspected of being a war criminal.

Faustin Nyamwasa, an ex-army chief and former member of President Paul Kagame's inner circle, fled to South Africa in February 2010 after falling out with the Kigali administration.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa wants a high court to revoke the June 2010 decision by South African authorities to grant him refugee status.

The group's lawyer Anton Katz argued Nyamwasa did not qualify for refugee status because he was suspected of war crimes.

"We agree that he can't be sent back to Rwanda, but that does not concern this court. This court must decide if he's entitled to refugee status," Katz told the court.

"If the decision was irrational this court must set it aside," he said, adding that Nyamwasa may have to apply for a different type of permit.

Nyamwasa was granted refugee status just days after he was shot and wounded outside his Johannesburg home in what South Africa's authorities described as an assassination attempt by foreign "security operatives".

Six men -- three Rwandans and three Tanzanians -- are on trial accused of trying to kill him.

His presence in the country has caused diplomatic headaches for South Africa.

Spain and France are both seeking to extradite him for his alleged role in the in the 1994 genocide which killed 800,000 people.

Rwanda also wants to bring him home to serve a 24-year prison sentence after a military court tried him in absentia on charges of desertion, defamation and threatening state security.

He also faces terrorism charges for allegedly masterminding grenade attacks in Kigali in the run-up to Rwanda's 2010 presidential elections.


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