Kigali, 26st October 2011
The political prisoner Madame Victoire Ingabire defended her case on the counts of complicity to acts of terrorism and conspiracy to overthrow the government, today in a Kigali High Court. In contempt of defence protests to photocopy personal handnotes of Madame Ingabire, the presiding judge ordered on stage to copy her manuscripts for the court and the prosecution. That notwithstanding, she still looks good, composed, steady and self confident.
The United Kingdom High Commissioner together with the political counsellor were again allowed in the courtroom.
- On 20 October 2011, the High Court adjourned until 24 October 2011 on the request of the defence counsel amid unrelenting harassments and threats. The court ruling (RP0081-0110/10/HC/KIG, on 13 October 2011) on the non-retroactivity and territorial juridiction, stated that the ”final denommination of the charges and their legal grounds are still open for corrections as the trial is still going on and that prosecution shortages will be rectified during the hearings ” (§ 25 and 33 of the ruling).
- On 24 October 2011, the High Court discussed afresh the ”pieces of evidence” to be transfered from the Netherlands to Rwanda. The following request was in the Note Verbale KIG047/2011 dated 10/10/2011 from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kigali to the Rwandan Foreign affairs Ministry: ”... In order to be expedient once the summary trial (summary proceedings against the Minister of Security and justice in the Netherlands) is officially requested, we ask your permission in principle to show these pieces of evidence to the defence team if and when requested during the summary trial”.
”The national Public Prosecution Authority of Rwanda, however, notes that there are aspects to be considered by the authorities in Holland, more particularly security of individuals interviewed or mentioned in those documents who are out of Rwanda and who are not witnesses so far. The decision to disclose material to the defence must be considerate of these other factors”. Responded the Rwandan Foreign Ministry Note verbale No. 211/109.05/31/11 dated 11 October 2011.
The political prisoner Ingabire is accused of divisionism because she alleged that there have been a tutsi genocide and Humanitarian crimes targeting Hutus and that the real power is concentrated in the hands of some members of the tutsi ethnic group. This is against the official narrative on ethinicity: since 1959 a genocide against the Tutsi population was carried out and masterminded by Hutu regimes; there is a rampant genocide ideology; but there are no ethnic groups in Rwanda, they were only created by colonisers for political purposes; there have never been killings targeting Hutu populations; Nobody is discriminated in Rwanda.”
For her defence, she refered and produced United Nations reports on the Rwanda genocide; UN reports on humanitarian and war crimes committed in Rwanda and in the DRC; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ”Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003”; Shake Hands with the Devil (an account of the Rwandan genocide, General Romeo Dallaire); Gersony report on post genocide reprisals killings; the French and Spanish judiciary inquiry on the downing of the Presidential plane; the report on ethinicity by the US Embassy in Kigali in 2008; various Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch reports, etc, …
The presiding judge did not hide the court's opinion on those reports on Rwanda: ”they are not accurate”.
The biggest problem in this trial is that the current judiciary and courts systems are the products of this official narrative . It is their duty to protect the values and principles set by the current regime. What kind of justice could they deliver in a case opposing the government to its key political opposition leader?
- The hearing of 26 October 2011 focused on the criminal charges on complicity in terrorist acts and spreading rumors aimed at inciting the people to rebel against a sitting governement. The prosecutor acknowledged that there are no conclusive grounds to link Ingabire to grenade attacks in Rwanda in 2010 but stated that the key witnesses and co-accused have all confessed their responsibilities in terrorist acts and their collaboration with the key defendant and have volunteered information on emails, money transfers and meetings .
Madame Ingabire explained how all those emails and money transfer documents are fake, forged or edited. She challenged either the prosecution, either those witnesses to seriously materialise their tales. ”I have not written those emails. I have never sent money to any of those people. My name appears nowhere in those papers. I have nothing to do with the monies they said they received from third parties. I never met those people in Kinshasa nor in Brazzaville and their accounts of our meetings are contradicting each other, ...”, she told the court.
The accusation of spreading rumors against the government is based on ideas, opinions, political declarations and press releases signed by opposition leader Ingabire in her political life in and outside the country. In Rwanda, political activities are regulated by the political parties law and supervised by the forum of political parties under the leadership of the ruling party.
According to the Rwandan criminal law, the crime of conspiracy to overthrow a sitting government is punishable by article 165 of the criminal law to life imprisonment.