Kigali, 15 January 2012.
Leaders of the interim Executive committee observed a minute of silence in front of the High Court house waiting for the party Chair, Ms. Victoire INGABIRE UMUHOZA, to be escorted to the Courtroom, in handcuffs and prisoners’ uniform as her political trial was supposed to resume today.
It was again adjourned until 13 February 2012 to allow the Prosecutor to get ready with the relevance, materiality, and translation of segments of additional investigation on allegations of acts of terrorism. The High Court informed the Defence counsel that the postponement request from the National Public Prosecution Authority was registered on 12 January 2012. The Defence was not informed, and Barrister Iain EDWARDS travelled from the UK to Rwanda for the hearing just to be told it will resume after another four weeks!
Speaking to a press conference in Uganda early December 2011, President Paul KAGAME blatantly lied that “the British lawyer deserted the trial after he realised that there was overwhelming evidence on acts of terrorism”. We don’t know whether this surprise adjournment is related to a governmental exhaustion strategy in order to finish the financial means of the defendant. Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and her party are paying Rwandan lawyers and expenses of the British probono lawyer. The government of Rwanda has derailed the registration of FDU-INKINGI political party since January 2010 and most key leaders of the party have been detained as well.
Today, after debates, the High Court accepted the Prosecutor’s request for an extra three week preparation of the case and a week was given to the Defence counsel to read the new file whenever available. Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and her defence counsel told the High Court their concerns about those delaying tactics and the still hidden parts of the file. For example the documents from the Netherlands are written in languages fully understood by the defendant (Dutch, Kinyarwanda, English and French) and she has been refused access to that documentation until now; the first interrogations of the prosecutor’s key witnesses are missing in the file; the overwhelming terror evidence discussed by President Paul Kagame in the media is not in the file, etc… The High Court seems comfortable with this situation.
Since 2010, almost all members of the FDU-INKINGI Interim Executive Committee have been arbitrary detained, tortured or ill-treated. The latest case is the abduction and severe beating of Mr. Gratien NSABIYAREMYE on 02 January 2012 by a marine captain RUTABURINGOGA, released on 09 January 2012 and ordered to report to Rubavu police station every Tuesday.
Today, the Chair of another opposition party, Parti Social IMBERAKURI, Mr. Bernard NTAGANDA serving a 4 year jail sentence, was taken to the Supreme Court on charges of endangering national security, divisionism and inciting ethnic divisions.
Given that the government does not tolerate any opposition, we have no doubt that those political scare tactics, threats and intimidation will continue and that the political justice remains one of the last key pillars of the dictatorship fortress.
Today as people around the civilised world are celebrating the civil and human rights day of this year in memory of Martin Luther King’s Day; many are still silent on the lack of political space and freedoms in Rwanda.
Interim Vice President