Former Top Kagame Aides Allege State of Terror

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“The question of talking about these very serious human rights, especially, the idea of a head of state or regime, killing innocent citizens,” Dr. Rudasingwa alleged, of Kagame

[Global: Africa]

Paul Kagame, once praised as Rwanda's savior is now being denounced by
former allies and comrades in arms as someone who presides over a
murderous regime.

Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former army chief, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Col. Patrick Karegyeya, Dr. Gerald Gahima, all learned that
Rwanda's Military Court at Kanombe, near Kigali, on January 14, handed
them prison terms ranging from 20 to 24 years. They had been charged
with subversive activities, including--terrorism, creation of a criminal
organization, treason, defamation of the President, incitement of
ethnic division, and desertion from the army.

Rwanda authorities told The Black Star they will seek exradition of the men convicted in absentia.

Gen. Kayumba, who survived a widely reported assassination attempt in
South Africa, and Dr. Rudasingwa a former Kagame adviser were each
sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. Kayumba was dismissed "with
disgrace" from the Rwanda Defence Forces. Col. Karegeya and Dr. Gahima each face 20 years behind bars.

“We reiterate once again that we are innocent of the crimes that we
have been accused of,” said Dr. Gahima, who provided a statement to The Black Star News,
adding that: “We have not committed any actions that contravene the
laws of our country or aim to cause insecurity. Neither have we
advocated change of government by unlawful means or incited ethnic
division as the government alleges.”

Dr. Gahima also scorns the judges who heard the case--contending they did
not have jurisdiction to admit and try a case against a military officer
of the rank of Lieutenant General. The court sought to exercise
jurisdiction over civilians without a legitimate basis, he says.

“The court convicted us in spite of the fact that the Government did
not produce any evidence,” reads Dr. Gahima's statement in parts, adding
that: “Other than our writings and press interviews that are protected
by constitutional guarantee of free speech, to establish the alleged

Washington-based Dr. Gahima, a former chief of staff to Rwanda’s
Ministry of Justice and the country’s Attorney General since mid-90s,
explained that: “We are not criminals; we are patriots who advocate for
an end to dictatorship and advancement of freedom.”

The statement signed by Dr. Gahima, on behalf of his colleagues,
further reads: “Our views on the situation of human rights and the state
of democratic governance in Rwanda are widely shared by many in and
outside Rwanda as well as the most reputable international human rights

“The objective of this case is to suppress political opposition," he
wrote, adding: “To deprive Rwandan citizens of the right of
participation, to consolidate authoritarian rule and to suppress the
truth about the deplorable human rights situation and state of
governance in Rwanda.”

“Many courageous men and women whose only crime is to advocate
peaceful democratic reform have been subjected to all kinds of
persecution, including torture, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment and
extra-judicial killings,” he added.

He also cited what he said was the illegal incarceration of Lt General
Charles Muhire and Lt Col. Rugigana Ngabo a brother to Gen. Kayumba,
who is in an underground prison and was said to have been badly beaten
and not allowed to see visitors.

He said President Kagame's critics such as former President Pasteur
Bizimungu remains under house arrest and has been denied permission to
seek medical treatment abroad.

“Charles Ntakirutinka, Bernard Ntaganda, Victoire Ingabire, and Deo
Mushyayidi, a journalist alleged to have been kidnapped from Burundi by
Rwandan agents," he continued, referring to those detained, including
Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a top opposition leader.

Separately, Dr. Rudasingwa, a former Rwandan ambassador to the U.S.
and Director of cabinet until April 2005, when he fled the country,
told The Black Star, by
telephone in the United States: “The sentence just handed down against
us in absentia by Kagame’s court tells more about the regime than about
the alleged crimes against us. The gist of what we are saying is that
these are politically-motivated sentences."

Dr. Rudasingwa also said that he and his colleagues do not intend to
challenge the verdict:  “We simply ignore it, because we didn’t get
summonses, we didn’t go there, maybe if we were there, probably we would
be dead because as you know two of us, General Kayumba and Patrick
Karegyeya; there have been repeated assassination attempts.”

“The question of talking about these very serious human rights,
especially, the idea of a head of state or regime, killing innocent
Dr. Rudasingwa alleged, adding that: “Kagame is responsible for so many
deaths of innocent people. This is not us, just claiming it.”

In a telephone interview, commenting on the issues, Col. Jill
Rutaremara, a Rwanda Army spokesperson said: “Yes, the military court
sentenced them and now we are waiting for their extradition.”

“We are going to use diplomatic means to have them extradited and serve their sentences here,” Col. Rutaremara said.

When asked about the evidence used to convict the former Kagame aides, Col. Rutaremara said: “According to the laws of
the land, the evidence could either have been what they were writing in the press or what they were talking in public.”

The spokesperson also explained that, Gen. Nyamwasa and Dr. Rudasingwa
were found guilty of allegedly forming of a terrorist group, threatening
national security, undermining public order, promoting ethnic divisions
and insulting the person of the President of Rwanda, contrary to
Articles of the Penal Code of 1977 Presidential Decree.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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