A powerful investigation into a grisly killing that leads to an unravelling of the benign image of Rwanda, a country showered with Western aid while its leaders began a bloody killing spree of their political opponents.
Patrick Karegeya was strangled in a luxury hotel room in Johannesburg. It was no casual act of violence, because Karegeya was a Rwandan spy chief turned dissident. When word of his death reached Rwanda, the reaction especially among his former friends and colleagues was jarringly gleeful. “When you choose to be a dog, you die like a dog,” Rwanda’s defense minister declared, “and the cleaners will wipe away the trash so that it does not stink.” Rwandan President Paul Kagame, while denying that Rwanda had anything to do with the killing-“it’s a big ‘no'”-quickly sounded as though he wanted the credit: “I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.”
Michela Wrong knew Patrick Karegeya well, and her investigation into the plot to kill him reveals a sinister political murder sanctioned at the highest level-in every way comparable with the killing by Saudi Arabia of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is a chilling example of the newly acceptable art of political murder abroad. And in tracing the origins of the murder, Wrong shows that the story the West told itself about the ideals of plucky Rwanda overlooked a fundamental and sinister moral flaw; it was a regime unafraid to kill its opponents in cold blood, wherever they lived around the world. Rwanda under Kagame has become a deadly autocracy. It is as ruthless as it is corrupt, and Karegeya’s assassination was just part of a widespread campaign of extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, renditions, beatings, death threats and surveillance waged abroad with impunity.