Eight former employees of the ministry of health are facing prosecution on charges of allegedly conniving in a fraudulent tender process with a Dutch company to supply medical equipment.
The suspects – all former employees of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and one entrepreneur , include Theogene Ntamuhungu, JMV Birasa, Emmanuel Birinabahizi, Jean Claude Zimulinda, Fred Kayitare, Richard Uwimana, Justine Gashema, and Jean Paul Mugabo.
The group was fired in April this year, and have been under detention for two weeks on charges of: allegedly breaching tender procedures, forging documentation, conniving with tender bidders, conducting operation contrary to government work parameters, and amassing undeclared wealth.
All the suspects are charged with the crime of involvement in illegal tender procedures, but five are separately accused of amassing undeclared wealth, and five of them on forged documents, while four were accused of conducting operation contrary to work obligations.
They appeared for bail hearing on July 11 and are scheduled to reappear this Tuesday. In the last hearing, one suspect Justine Gashema an enterprenuer representing Joh Achelis Rwanda ltd- a local company, was accused of procuring tenders on behalf of Joh Achelis International-German which won several tender to supply medical supplies under illicit tendering procedures.
However lawyer Kayijuka Ngabo who represented the suspect said that if his client is to be arrested and tried then the first step is to place the charges on the said company of which his client is secondary.
“This procedure was wrong, my client represents Joh Achelis Rwanda Ltd, not Joh Achelis International. You either prosecute both employee and employer or the employer alone, because my client was not working as a principle in this case,” Kayijuka said.
In response the prosecution said that Gashema had been said he was an employee of the German company while he was questioned during the investigation on how he was related to the company in question.
However Gashema responded saying that during the questioning he had made it clear that he was an employee of Joh Achelis Rwanda.
“If you want to prove this check on the tender numbers 03/F/15-16/MOH-COAJ and you will see who tendered for this,” Gashema said, when asked by his lawyer to comment on the case.
Prosecution led by Faustin Munyamahoro and Emmanuel Nkubito, was not convinced with the defense and said that besides showing evidence of the investigation paperwork done they will provide evidence that Gashema was an authentic representative of the Germany company which has operations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The prosecutors said that the charges are criminal and the suspects should each be tried on a case by case principle, however lawyer presented objections on ground of wrongful arrests of their clients in the first case and told court judge to release them immediately.
Lawyer Milton Nkuba Munyandamutsa presented to court a document used to arrest the suspects which was warranted by the Ministry of Internal affairs(which does not exist anymore) then Rwanda National Police and the Criminal Investigation department.
“None of the institutions have the competence to conduct an investigation and arrest our clients because some of them no longer exist. This mean the procedure was wrong in the first case,” Nkuba said.
In response, Prosecutor Munyamahoro said that there is a rightful paperwork which is in the computerized court system and the paper evidence presented by lawyers should be considered as a fake document.
On the case of illegal amassing of wealth prosecution had said that the suspects didn’t declare (intentionally) their wealth and there was proof that the wealth was not in relation to the incomes, thus the investigation and arrests.
In response defense lawyers unanimously stated that the procedure that should have been followed would be to have the office of the Ombudsman inform in writing the employers so that punitive measures are taken as administrative misconduct.
“We don’t see any paper work that shows that this procedure was followed, and wonder where they (prosecution) got all this information about our clients, without a paper trial,” Nkuba said.
Whether the eight suspects will be released on bail or stay in detention for next 30 days will depend on a court decision on the legibility of the objections presented by both sides.
This will be decided when court reconvenes on Tuesday July 17, 2018 at 3pm.