A High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes in Nyanza district has upheld a prosecution request to combine the trial of two former National Liberation Front (FLN) spokesmen Callixte Nsabimana and Herman Nsengimana.
The court decision was taken this Thursday after the presiding judge stated that there was enough reason to combine both cases since the duo shares similar charges on crimes levied against them.
Both prosecution and the Nsabimana had earlier on September 11, posed arguments for and against a request to have a combined trial.
Nsabimana alias Sankara, is facing 17 counts of terror charges on alleged crimes including murder and arson committed in Nyamagabe District and around Nyungwe National Park in 2018.
Since last year, he has been able to respond to nine of the charges and has been battling the remaining eight charges of which he shares with his FLN successor- Nsengimana.
It’s on this basis that prosecution had argued in the August digital format court trial that both suspects held the same position (as FLN Spokesmen) and thus a need to try both suspects on the same charges.
Prosecution also based its argument on allegations that Nsabimana is the one who recruited Nsengimana and by having both tried together, the case trial would be speeded up.
Nsabimana, also earlier on agreed to the prosecution’s request and suggested their case should be aligned with that of Paul Rusesabagina, who was also recently arrested on charges of allegedly funding some of the terror operations on Rwanda- that were coordinated by the two suspects.
Sankara, who has pleaded guilty to most of the charges told the high court chamber that justice will be served if he is tried alongside Rusesabagina, whom he referred to as ‘The Boss’.
The same thinking is shared by the terror attacks victims’ defense attorney Yousuf Ndutiye who said that have a combined trial of the three suspects would make it easy for victims to submit compensation claims and easily follow up court proceedings.
However, Sankara’s defense lawyer cautioned court to reexamine possibilities of potential challenges in the trial since his client has already pleaded guilty to most of the charges while other suspects (Nsengimana or Rusesabagina) have not commenced initial case hearings.
Apparently the presiding judge said that the Nyanza based court has not received the case file of the ‘Hotel Rwanda hero’ Rusesabagina thus no need to consider its possibilities, but the combined trial of Sankara and Nsengimana will proceed on November 24th.
As result of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, the case is expected to be held on digital platforms connecting the suspects held in Mageragera prison in Kigali city and the judges in Nyanza district in the Southern Province.