Whenever he made a list of staff to participate in conferences outside the country, he would also add names of his sister yet she was not an employee of the institution.
Before his arrest, Nathan Gashayija was a Director General in charge of EAC affairs in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Affairs.
While appearing in High court on Tuesday, Gashayija was tasked to explain why he regularly listed his sister Nora Nyiraneza among ministry employees to take part in four separate conferences meant for government officials.
Court heard that Nyiraneza was offered air tickets and full facilitation to take part as a delegate in conferences held in Rwanda and also Uganda.
“Gashayija had given his passwords to a ministry staff to conduct registration arrangement on his behalf. As per routine, the staff had to address all logistics e – mails to the Ministry Permanent Secretary, with copy to Gashayija,” said Francoise Niyonkuru, the government attorney.
“The person who was facilitating this process testified in this case.”
In his defense the accused and their two lawyers stood ground saying that Nyiraneza never registered as a civil servant or representative of any ministerial post during the conferences, but as a tourism expert.
“Our client registered for the conferences like any other Rwandan. She didn’t impersonate anyone or any official position. There is no document that shows she did,” one of the lawyers contended.
Prosecution referred to information gathered during the prior interrogation, saying that Nyiraneza’s experience and qualifications didn’t match one of an expert.
“I asked Nyiraneza if she was an expert in tourism. She said that she was a fruit vendor, and then worked with a construction company. How is that related to an expert in tourism?” Niyonkuru asked.
Nyiraneza responded that she was coerced to make statements and was threatened by police during initial interrogation.
Prosecution said that Gashayija had no knowledge that his communication on email with his sister and the conference organisers were being monitored even when he managed to pull it off.
He used this monitoring as a defense tool.
“I was compromised when my email was hacked. The same people accusing me are the same who doctored all these false emails on my behalf, and this should be investigated because it’s unlawful,” Gashayija told court.
He said violation of one’s privacy is abuse of power because “such an investigation in emails and phone records can only be granted by the Minister of Justice or Prosecutor General only in case of a threat to State security.”
Defense lawyers requested court to analyze communication between the accused and the ministry’s PS.
They requested that the latter should be questioned instead of Gashayija, “since he doesn’t give orders but executes them from above.”
Niyonkuru requested court not to grant bail to suspects to allow further investigations.
However, suspects requested for bail – Nyiraneza says she is sick and needs to go see the doctor.
Court will convene again on March 3, 2017 to decide whether to detain the suspect for 30 days or release them on bail.
Favoritism and nepotism in public service attracts a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rwf2 million under Rwanda’s penal code.