Home NewsNational Victoire Ingabire In Court To Seek Clearance, Prosecution Insists She’s Unworthy

Victoire Ingabire In Court To Seek Clearance, Prosecution Insists She’s Unworthy

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
7:11 pm

Ingabire wants the High Court to clear her criminal record but Prosecutors disagree.

The High Court in Rwanda on Wednesday heard a case in which previously convicted self-proclaimed opposition politician Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is demanding to be exonerated and cleared in order to restore all her rights as a citizen, taken away on grounds of being convicted on criminal charges of a serious nature.

Ingabire, who returned to Rwanda in 2010, was jailed and later found guilty of conspiracy to cause insurrections and undermine an established government as well as denying and minimizing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, sentencing her to 8 years in prison.

She later appealed the verdict the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court, which in December 2013 increased her jail term to 15 years.

Ingabire was released in September 2018 after President Paul Kagame commuted her prison sentence of 15 years and granted her clemency after serving half of her sentence.

Appearing in high court today with her lawyer Gatera Gashabana, Ingabire argued that as per the country’s laws, she is eligible to be cleared of her criminal record, based on her conduct over the five years since her release.

For the above reason, she filed a court case to demand that right in November 2023. The law provides that the case should be tried in high court for civilians and the military high court for soldiers, at least one month after it is filed.

Among the qualification criteria, the appellant should have been characterized by good conduct, fulfilling social obligations of a citizen, and respecting government programs, among other conditions.

Ingabire said that since her release she respected the government programmes, by participating in the monthly community work otherwise known as ‘Umuganda’,  and participated in the national commemoration of the 1994 Genocide committed against Tutsi. She also said that she co-existed in harmony with community members.

Her lawyer, Gatera Gashabana also argued that Ingabire remained in the country, as per the conditions set upon her release, despite many events that would have required her to travel outside Rwanda, including checking on her husband who was reportedly sick.

The Prosecution however disagreed with the with Ingabire’s submissions, pointing out that since her release she never respected the conditions that she was given, including appearing before the prosecution at the primary level in her neighborhood once every month, to show them where she resides and to  to be part of the national programs including community work.

Prosecution argued that Ingabire never respected the condition to appear before the prosecution every month, but the complainant justified that she only failed to respect the program during COVID-19 time when a large part of civil servants were working from home.

The prosecution said, that they checked, to find that other people on this condition used to appear except Ingabire who said that since 75% staff were allowed to work from office, she resumed the program to appear post-pandemic.

The Prosecution further accused Ingabire of having been part of an unregistered political party called DALFA Umurinzi and FDU Inkingi, conducting herself as  a president, issuing several communiques and chaired meetings, all of which were illegal activities.

Ingabire defended herself saying that there are gaps in the law governing how political parties are registered, insisting that she never gathered people for a meeting. Her lawyer said that DALFA Umurinzi is simply an association, not a political party.

The prosecution further told court, that Ingabire exhibited bad conduct because the Rwanda Investigation Bureau(RIB) summoned her on three occasions.

In  response, she pointed two case where she was alleged of being behind intention to conduct illegal demonstration and supporting armed groups in Kinigi, Musanze district and another one of allegedly conducting meetings with political parties.

She said that in either case, she proved to RIB that she was not responsible, which is why no charges were pressed

The prosecution indicated that Ingabire is accused of serious crimes which deprive her of  a right to be exonerated-the crimes include supporting armed/terror groups.

However, Ingabire said that while she was part of a court case involving armed groups such as FDLR, throughout her hearing, she reiterated that she had always been for peaceful negotiation, not war.

The prosecution presented some jurisprudence where people in similar crimes were denied exoneration, but the defense refuted them.

During her trial, Prosecutors maintained that Ingabire had worked closely with armed groups mainly operating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), presenting some individuals linked to the said groups who were her co-accused.

 

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