Rwanda Continues Show "Trial" of Opposition Leader

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Our government is continuously crippling democracy. A nightmare usurping people's freedoms, eavesdropping on phones or any other communications means and keeping the judiciary under its control.

[Op-Ed Global: Rwanda]

The hearing had been postponed since 25 November 2011 due to the presiding judge's sick leave. Yesterday, it was adjourned to 13 December 2011 due to extra-court activities of judges. For both days, the high court heard defence conclusions on the contradictions
and inconsistencies observed in the oral answers from prosecutor's key witnesses and the defence submissions on 5 counts of the indictment.

The life of another opposition leader, Mr. Bernard Ntaganda, incarcerated in Kigali Central Prison as well and serving a politically motivated 4 year sentence is supposedly in danger. His political party, - Parti Social IMBERAKURI - informed the public that he was tortured last week inside the penitential premises.

Our government is continuously crippling democracy. A nightmare usurping people's freedoms, eavesdropping on phones or any other communications means and keeping the judiciary under its control.

The status of the proceedings is still. The High Court denied the defence the right to a direct cross-examination of the prosecutor's key witnesses.

They were given all the questions in order to revise them, prepare their answers beforehand and filter which one they wanted to take or not. Still their statements contradict in many parts both the arranged police and prosecutor's interviews or accounts of the modus operandi. Most of the police interrogations of the pleading guilty co-accused Tharcisse Nditurende which occurred during the first 7 months of his detention in a
military isolation confinement are no where in the dossier.

The prosecutor stated that the 21st April 2010 first arrest of Madame Victoire Ingabire came as a result of overwhelming evidence provided by Lt Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende. Curiously the first police written statement related to this co-accused are dated after the arrest of Ingabire. How could the prosecutor base the arrest warrant on statements that did not exist that time?

The defence analysis of all the statements of the key witness Vital Uwumuremyi, co-accused pleading guilty in this case, reveal that he was closely working for intelligence services under the supervision of CSP Tony Kuramba of the Criminal Investigation Department.

The evidence on the allegations - of genocide negation; discrimination and sectarianism; and willingly disseminating rumours aimed at inciting the public against the existing leadership - is based on the rights to political activities, freedom of speech and freedom of association. The
legal instruments which the Prosecutor is founding his case on are controversial and the government has already acknowledged the need to
review them.

“The prosecutor's case is full of flaws. From its inception to the indictment, it shows a clear determination to silence the political leader. The constitution of the Republic grants her the right to challenge governmental policies. The criminal investigations did not precede but it seems they have been initiated to justify or cover up the imprisonment of an opposition leader. The presumption of innocence has been violated during
the making of this case against my client”, explained the lawyer Gatera Gashabana. The defence has given details on the lack of jurisdiction of the High court in this case to non avail: over 75% of evidence is based on allegations that pre-dated the criminal laws in force.

The Rwandan criminal procedure does not accept any retro-activity of the criminal law. The court does not have territorial jurisdiction to try the accused on the counts of the indictment.


Boniface Twagirimana is FDU-INKINGI Interim Vice President.

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