14 November 2007

Rwanda: Acquittal of a Journalist After 11 Years in Prison

Arusha — Tatiana Mukakibibi, a 42-year old journalist from the public broadcaster Radio Rwanda, was acquitted of genocide by a gacaca court in Ruhango (southern Rwanda) and was released after eleven years of custody, reported Wednesday the organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB).

Four days after the judgment, the journalist, who was a host and producer of programs at Radio Rwanda in 1994, was able to go back home. On 2 October 1996, she was arrested; accused of the murder of a journalist employed by the ministry of agriculture and immediately put in jail where she was held until December 2006. She always denied the accusations, denouncing a plot against her.

"After eleven years in prison for nothing, we wish that the journalist can from now on regain a normal life, in company of her daughter, now a teenager", stated the official statement of RWB. "This painful affair must be regarded as closed, now that Tatiana Mukakibibi was found innocent of the crimes which she was accused of", the organization concludes.

On 6 November, after three hours of deliberation, the gacaca court of the sector of Kimegeri, in the district of Ruhango, in the South province, acquitted Tatiana Mukakibibi of the criminal charges of "genocide", "planning and participation in the genocide" and "distribution of weapons" in the sector of Kimegeri, between April and July 1994. Many defence witnesses explained to the judges that the journalist was not on the scene when the presidential guard had distributed weapons that were used by the génocidaires.

They exonerated her of any participation in criminal acts, in particular of the assassination of Eugene Bwanamudogo, who directed shows for the ministry for agriculture.

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