Burundi denies wanting exile extradited

2012-01-15 10:20

Bujumbura - Burundi denied on Saturday that it had asked for an exiled Burundian opposition leader to be arrested in Tanzania and extradited to face murder charges.

"As far as I know the Burundian government did not demand that Alexis Sinduhije be arrested," government spokesperson Philippe Nzobonariba told AFP.

Sinduhije's lawyer had told AFP that he was detained in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam on Wednesday after arriving from neighbouring Uganda.

Burundian authorities accuse Sinduhije of "involvement in a murder which happened several years ago and they are doing everything to have him extradited", the lawyer, Habas Nyange, said on Friday.

"All this is happening without any international arrest warrant against him," he said.

Sinduhije, a former journalist, fled Burundi following disputed 2010 elections and the ensuing unrest that also forced other opposition leaders into exile.

He sought refuge in France.

Rising violence

More than 300 opposition members were victims of extra-judicial killings last year, according to a Burundian NGO. The UN Security Council said 53 people were executed in Burundi between January and November 2011.

The rising violence has sparked fears of a resumption of the civil conflict that claimed some 300 000 lives between 1993 and 2006.

Nzobonariba said the Burundian government had "not been informed of any misdemeanours, which does not mean that judicial authorities have nothing against him".

"Legal authorities will have to clarify this," he added.

The number two of Sinduhije's Movement for Solidarity and Development party has been detained since July last year.

Burundian officials initially declined to comment on the arrest, but the leader of the country's main opposition coalition, Leonce Ngendakumana, confirmed it.

Burundian security official, contacted by AFP on Friday, welcomed the arrest, with one of them accusing Sinduhije of "spearheading a terrorist group that has tried to destabilise Burundi for over a year".

Judicial officials told AFP that Burundi's prosecutor general, Valentin Bagorikunda, had been in Dar es Salaam since Wednesday to negotiate Sinduhije's extradition.