- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

Federal immigration officials have detained three Rwandan citizens who were brought to the United States to face trial in the 1999 torture and killing of an American couple, after a judge dismissed all of the charges.

Francois Karake, Leonidas Bimenyimana and Gregoire Nyaminani, reputed members of the Liberation Army of Rwanda, had faced death sentences in connection with the 1999 killings of Robert Haubner and his wife, Susan Miller. They were discharged from the D.C. Jail last week.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now is holding the men at an undisclosed location, an agency spokeswoman said Wednesday. All three have applied for political asylum in the United States.

At the request of prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle dropped the charges against the men on Feb. 7 after ruling that their confessions were inadmissible. She cited evidence that the men were tortured by captors in Rwanda before they were brought to face trial in the United States in 2003.

ICE spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs declined to say where the men are being held, citing security reasons.

“They are all in our custody,” she said.

ICE has its own facilities but also detains prisoners in federal, county and contract facilities across the country.

Judge Huvelle said authorities could refile charges if investigators obtain additional evidence. She denied a defense request to delay her ruling over concerns about the pending asylum applications.

Defense attorney Robert Tucker said federal authorities have not moved to deport the men. He said no hearings have been scheduled.

In court documents, defense attorneys cited concern that the men would face persecution if they are deported because of their testimony about torture in Rwanda.

Family members of Mr. Haubner said they are upset that the men could receive asylum and live in the United States.

The Rwandans were held at the D.C. Jail for nearly four years to face charges in the bludgeoning deaths of Mr. Haubner and Mrs. Miller.

The couple, on a safari vacation to see rare mountain gorillas, were killed with six other tourists from New Zealand and Britain when men with guns, axes and machetes raided their camp in a national park in Uganda on March 1, 1999. Authorities said the killings were meant to erode U.S. support for Rwanda’s government.

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