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American Facing Prosecution in Rwanda

by Daniel Sabiiti
9:19 pm

This car is part of the case

A court in Gasabo district has released on bail a United States of America citizen who was arrested over two charges; spreading genocide ideology and damaging private property.

On the two counts, the suspect, Christopher Rollins Avery allegedly sent a Phone Short Messages (sms) to his spouse Eshter Hakizimana saying: “All Tutsi will get killed” and punching out pressure in tires of a Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) vehicle which was parked near a bar in Musanze district.

Both Avery and his spouse were hanging out in Musanze at the time of the second count on October 27, 2018 and according to the wife’s testimony, he said: “Let me show these (car owners) a lesson” attempting to deflate the RIB car tires but stopped when his wife screamed for help.

The couple, with one child also have an ongoing activity of construction of a house, and the first accusation is said to have been sparked by an argument over the poor construction of the house when Avery retaliated with an angry message.

Avery, a construction consultant in Rwanda had first appeared at the Kacyiru primary courts on November 8, to answer the charges and battle case file RDP 00360/2018/TB/GAS on a mandatory 30 days detention requested by prosecution.

At the court appearance, the constructor confessed to have sent the message but pleaded not guilty on the first charge of spreading genocide ideology on grounds it was a private communication and done out of anger.

But he also pleaded guilty to the second count saying he allegedly attempted to flatten the tires of the RIB vehicle which had reportedly blocked his vehicle as he drove out of the bar parking area.

Today, Avery who is detained at Rusororo police station did not appear to hear the ruling on his detention but was assisted by his defense lawyer Me Alloys Mutabingwa, accompanied by the suspect’s wife, child, family members and embassy diplomats.

Court ruled that prosecution request to have the suspect detained pending a detailed investigation into the case had no substantial justification.

“The case of Christopher (Avery) has and shows all the evidence court needs in a file of which he agrees to have committed, thus no need for further investigation and therefore be released on bail but with condition,” the presiding judge at the ruling said.

This release is only on condition that Avery hands over his travel documents and doesn’t leave the country until the case is concluded.

He should also appear before the prosecution every Monday of the week for the next three months and failure to do so may result to an arrest and subsequent imprisonment pending trial.

Defense lawyer Mutabingwa said that his client didn’t commit any crime and the allegations are not applicable because the first crime was not committed in public but on a private level and prosecution shouldn’t misinterpret or misapply provisions of article of genocide law.

“There was no commission caused by the sms or any signs of public disorder. My client’s wife just panicked and revealed more information about their poor marital relationship in hope of having some kind of reconciliation,” Mutabingwa said.

Mutabingwa revealed that his client’s spouse had written to prosecution informing them of the circumstances and regrets for having released private information which they seek to reverse.

On the second count, Mutabingwa said that his client had apologized to RIB officials, but intrinsically didn’t commit damage to property as stated in the law, but acted out of anger because RIB vehicle had parked wrongly.

Official Gazette nº Special of 14 June 2012, Article 116 states that any person who publicly shows, by his/her words, writings, images, or by any other means, that he/she negates the genocide against the Tutsi, rudely minimizes it or attempts to justify or approve its grounds, or any person who hides or destroys its evidence shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of more than five (5) years to nine (9) years.

In the meantime, Christopher Rollins Avery was released and expected to reunite with wife and child though the spouse looked tense and nervous at the ruling and pushed away any media that attempted to take her picture.