Rwanda: Witnesses renounce the prosecution in the case of Victoire Ingabire

May 1st, 2013 at 3:28 | By | Category: News

After having testified against opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in Rwandan High court last year, four prosecution witnesses told the Supreme Court on this 29th of April that their testimonies were falsified and Ingabire’s political party FDU-INKINGI never aimed at the formation of a ‘‘Coalition of Democratic Forces (CDF) military wing’’.

A few days into the appeal trial of Ingabire, former FDLR members and co-accused Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende, Lt Colonel Noël Habiyaremye, Captain Jean Marie Vianney Karuta and Major Vital Uwumuremyi told the Supreme Court that they ‘‘have never been members of such organization [the CDF], because it had never existed’’, according to the press release published on this 29th of April by Twagirimana Boniface, Acting Vice-President of FDU-Inkingi.

Lieutenant-Colonel Nditurende admitted to have contacted Ingabire for ‘‘financial support’’ but says she ‘‘never responded positively’’. Regarding the prosecution’s evidence of e-mails in which he and Ingabire talked about the CDF, Nditurende revealed to the Supreme Court thatthe Ministry of Justice ‘‘forced him’’ to reveal the password of his e-mail account during his detention, thereby gaining ‘‘free access’’ to amend his messages.

In the first instance trial, the four witnesses pleaded guilty to conspiring with Victoire Ingabire to form the CDF armed group and affirmed that her aim was to ‘‘cause insecurity in Rwanda and force the government into peace talks by waging war’’.All four received ‘‘lenient’’ sentences for co-operating with the court: Vital Uwumuremyi was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, Tharcisse Nditurende and Noël Habiyaremye to 3 years and 6 months, and Jean Marie Vianney Karutato to 2 years 7 months.

Controversial detention

In March 2013, Human Rights’ organization Amnesty International released its report Justice in jeopardy: The first instance trial of Victoire Ingabire in which it expressed concerns about the ‘‘prolonged incommunicado detention’’ of Ingabire’s co-accused, stating that it had ‘‘documented allegations of the use of torture to coerce confessions’’ in the detention Camp Kami where Nditurende and Habiyaremye were held before appearing in court. A defence witness also said that he and Uwamuremyi were held together at Camp Kami and the ‘‘terrorism-related accusations against Victoire Ingabire were fabricated under coercion from state security’’.

On the 25th of March this year, Victoire Ingabire started her appeal trial after being sentenced to 8 years in prison for ‘‘genocide ideology’’ and ‘‘conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism’’ on the 30th of October 2012. In its conviction, the High Court relied greatly on the confessions of the four witnesses.

Jane Nishimwe

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