18th April 2012 – Ingabire political trial to continue with no counsel

Kigali, April 18, 2012.

The High Court ruled on the exception to proceed while Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, FDU-Inkingi Chair, has withdrawn from the case. Trials in absentia are permissible provided the defendant is duly notified of the proceedings. “Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s trial was almost at its end. She is not alone in this case. The appointment of a new counsel will delay the proceedings. In the highest interests of justice, the hearing will continue with no court appointed counsel, and she is no under any obligation to be present at trial…” says the High Court decision today in Kigali.

The court said that the law doesn’t make it a legal obligation to have a counsel (appointed). A new counsel would start the case from scratch resulting in delays and judicial frustrations. As for the ICTR jurisprudence in the case of the prosecutor v. Barayagwiza in Arusha, the court finds no foundation to compare both cases. Barayagwiza withdrew from the start whereas Ingabire got the opportunity to defend herself on every other charge in the indictment and the case was almost ready for closing arguments of the parties.

The hearing will continue on 23.04.2012.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President