Fashion designer and founder of Moshions, Moses Turahirwa on Monday appeared in Nyarugenge Intermedia Court to appeal an earlier decision by a lower court to deny him bail and place him in custody for 30 days.
Turahirwa, clad in pink prison uniform with a clean-shaven head ,appealed to judges on Monday to grant him bail so that he can continue following up on his studies, adding that the 45 days he has been in detention have taught him a lesson.
Turahirwa was sent on remand by Nayurgenge Primary Court on May 15, pending further investigations into charges he was facing, including alleged drug abuse and forgery, ahead of his substantive trial.
The designer immediately appealed the no bail verdict in an upper court, through a letter he wrote, appealing to judges to reconsider the decision and grant him bail, promising to cooperate in whatever the court and prosecutors direct him to do.
Turahirwa appeared in court on Monday with his lawyers, but he was overcome by emotions after Prosecutors maintained that the decision by the primary court should stand because there is evidence that the fashion designer could continue promoting the consumption of cannabis among the youth using his social media platforms as he did before he was arrested.
Court ruled that Turahirwa, who was detained by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), on April 27, on allegations of forgery and drug abuse, will remain in detention on grounds that he pleaded guilty to the charge of drug abuse and will most likely continue the habit if released back into society.
The judge said that Turahirwa, who used his social media platforms to claim that he is allowed to consume the psychoactive drug and to grow it in Nyungwe, will most likely continue to engage in the same activities if released. It was also argued that he could continue to use his social media platforms to encourage young people to take drugs.
In his appeal, Turahirwa argued that the primary court incarcerated him over something he was not initially charged with, which is promoting the consumption of marijuana. His initial charge was about possession and abusing the drug himself, not promoting its use.
He maintained that he consumed the substance during his study time in Europe and that he was not aware of the portions that were found in his house, arguing that they could have been remains he carried from Italy in one of his shirts.
Prosecutors however maintained the accused is trying to downplay the seriousness of a crime which if found guilty is punishable by law a prison sentence of not less than one year but not more than two. They further argued that investigations are still ongoing and releasing the defendant would jeopardize the process.
One of the reasons they gave as to why Turahirwa should remain in custody is that he does not admit that the illegal drug was found in house, in his own wardrobe and clothes, instead arguing that he was not aware of the origins.
They also contend that tests showed that Turahirwa had high levels of Cannabis in his blood, returning about 321 metabolites, while the average normal levels of a person should be around 20 metabolites. Prosecutors argued that this is enough proof to confirm that Turahirwa was abusing the banned drug.
Prosecutors argued that the assets he presented to court as bond security was not officially valued to determine the cost, apart from him telling court that his business was worth over Rwf300m, asking court to uphold the earlier ruling by Nyarugenge Primary Court.
After hearing the submissions of Prosecution, Turahirwa was overcome by emotions and he begged court for leniency, promising to cooperate with the judicial process if granted bail and also contribute positively to the society, adding that the 45 days behind bars have taught him valuable lessons.
He also told the Judge that he was not looking to promote drug use among the youth and that if released, he would use the opportunity to continue with his master’s studies in Italy and graduate.
Turahirwa also refuted claims that if released he would continue growing cannabis in Nyungwe, as he had claimed on social media, arguing that he would never grow the plant in the forest which is gazetted as a national park since nobody is allowed to cultivate anything there.
He also apologized for his actions and said that he never had any bad intentions in doing what he did. He said that some of his actions were aimed at promoting his fashion show and that he is remorseful if his actions misled people in one way or another.
He also said that he would not be a flight risk if released on bond, appealing to the judges to be lenient.
In denying him bail, the Nyarugenge Primary Court judge said that Turahirwa used his social media platforms to claim that he is allowed to consume the psychoactive drug and to grow it in Nyungwe and would most likely continue to engage in the same activities if released. It was also argued that he could continue to use his social media platforms to encourage young people to take drugs.
Turahirwa still faces the forgery charge but Nyarugenge Primary Court had ruled that Prosecution did not provide enough evidence to prove that Turahirwa committed the crime of forgery, after he posted a photo of his passport claiming that it was issued with his preferred gender of ‘female’. It is not clear where he will still face the charge.