Amavubi Goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera Handed 1-Year Suspended Sentence Over Drug Abuse

Olivier Kwizera

Rwanda National Football team (Amavubi) and Rayon Sport FC goalkeeper, Olivier Kwizera and seven other persons have been convicted to 1 year in prison after they were found guilty of illegally consuming cannabis.

The other suspects include: David Ntakobisa, Amza Runanira, Ismael Mugabo, Adolph Mugisha, Wafiq Rumaringabo, America Djuma and Seif Sinderibuye.

The group was on June 4, 2021 arrested and detained by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) after they were allegedly found consuming Marijuana in Kimisagara suburb- one of the settlements in Kigali city commonly associated with drug abuse.

Though it is now legal to grow and export Cannabis following the approval of the the law, consuming, peddling and possession of Cannabis in Rwanda remains an illegal activity punishable by the penal code to a jail term of  two years and a fine of about Rwf3million (about $3,000) under article 266 of the penal code.

After analyzing evidence and charges levied on the suspects, the Kicukiro Primary Court on Tuesday July 6, 2021 convicted all the suspects to a one year suspended jail sentence.

A suspended jail term can be referred to as a ‘lenient punishment’ which is served outside jail walls for the duration ruled by the judge. However, it is only for crimes whose punishment is a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.

Suspension of penalty only applies to those who have not previously been sent to jail or have had to do community service as an alternative for a crime whose punishment exceeds six months in prison.

In other words, consideration is usually given to first time offenders and those whose crimes are not very serious.

Also most importantly, when the period of time for sentence suspension is done, the sentence is considered null and void, and the loss of civic rights ceases to have an effect. The convict is free to live his/her life without fear of being sent to jail for the crime.

Though it may look lenient the penal code provides for heavy punishments in case the convicted person commits another criminal offense before the initial duration ends- giving court the legal rights to combine both jail terms in one punishment.

Normally the penal code provides that a person convicted on using cannabis, is sentenced

Apparently, all the eight players have up to thirty (30) days to appeal this ruling to a superior court, but if not this means that the convicted footballers will have to stay on the safe side as law-abiding citizens.

The suspects had previously denied the charges but tests done but Rwanda Forensic Laboratory (RFL) affirmed what Prosecutors suspected.




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