The former Director General of Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA), Prof. Jean Bosco Harelimana and two of his co-accused were on Wednesday granted conditional bail by Nyarugenge Primary Court but on condition that he doesn’t cross the boundaries of the City of Kigali over the new two months.
Prof. Harelimana, and his co-accused, Clever Hakizimana, who was the head of procurement and Liliane Gahongayire, who was a treasurer, are facing multiple charges including mismanagement or misuse of public resources, illegal awarding of government tenders as well as influence peddling, nepotism and intimidation for the former Director General.
Appearing in court last week, Prof. Harelimana denied all charges, pointing out that he had no control or influence on procurement and played no role in the process of awarding tenders or hiring people.
However, as per the Auditor General’s report of 2021, the three officials were allegedly found to be wanting in responding to the queries raised by the audit, which is why they were held culpable even after leaving their positions. Prosecutors had requested the court to put them on remand for 30 days to allow investigations to go on.
On Friday, the court ruled that while there are strong grounds to believe that Prof. Halareimana and his co-accused could be liable to respond to the charges they face, there was no strong reason to keep them in custody, mainly because investigations have been concluded.
The Judge said that there is strong reason to believe that there was conspiracy to commit or aid crimes that could have cost the taxpayers money, the details of which will be delved into during the substantive trial.
However, it was ruled that the audio that circulated on social media in which Prof. Halerimana was overheard making some orders to his lower staff members on different issues cannot be admissible in court as evidence as its source and authenticity is in doubt.
The court found that there are strong reasons to believe that both Hakizimana and Gahongayire conspired with Harelimana in making and implementing decisions, thereby aiding suspected crimes. They were equally released on bail but will continue to answer charges.
Article 86 of the Criminal Procedure Law, stipulates that suspects may be prosecuted while on bail, even if the charges they face carry a sentence of two years or more, unless there are compelling reasons to believe that they can jeopardize investigations if released or can be a flight risk.
Court further ordered the defendants to be reporting to Prosecution at the court every Friday over the next two months while those who stake sureties should register their securities with court. It was also ruled that Prof. Halerimana can be given bail to continue supervising his university students while his property worth Rwf85 was accepted as collateral.
Failure to comply with the set conditions can lead to cancelling the bail.