Obama deal sent Rwandans accused of butchering Americans to Australia amid refugee swap

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The Obama administration reportedly agreed to offload three Rwandans accused of slaughtering Americans to Australia -- a previously unknown arrangement connected to a broader migrant swap between the two countries that made headlines when President Trump balked at the deal in 2017.

A lengthy Politico report detailed how the administration agreed to transfer the three Rwandan men accused of a gruesome 1999 attack against Western tourists on a gorilla-watching visit to Uganda. They had been extradited to the U.S. and charged under terrorism laws, but in 2006 a judge ruled that the men’s confessions to the attacks that left two Americans and six other Western tourists dead were extracted through torture by Rwandan officials. The case was dropped and the men were left in limbo until the Obama-era deal.

The agreement to send them to Australia reportedly was made amid a seemingly related deal, struck during the final days of the Obama administration, for the U.S. to take as many as 1,250 migrants whom Australia was holding in offshore refugee centers -- which had come under international scrutiny for alleged mistreatment of migrants. In return, the U.S. would send over a much smaller number of refugees in Central America as part of an effort to relocate people fleeing drug violence.

President Trump famously raged at then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January 2017 and tried to renege on the deal, saying it would make him “look terrible” considering he was elected to office on a platform of reducing migration.
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