The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Cyrille Turatsinze, and his co-accused, Rene Rwego Harelimana, were yesterday acquitted after the Intermediate Court of Nyarugenge cleared them of corruption charges.
In her ruling, Judge Maliciane Mukagasana, said Prosecution failed to produce satisfactory proof to pin the accused on charges of soliciting a bribe.
Turatsinze was arrested on July 21, following allegations that he solicited a bribe of Rwf 2 million from, Jerome Nshimiyimana - a Kigali businessman - to influence tender procedures.
While reading the verdict before a court fully packed with relatives and friends of the accused, Mukagasana said prosecution's evidence "doesn't prove that Turatsinze actually solicited a bribe."
She said evidence provided by prosecution such as testimonies from the witness - Nshimiyimana - and the recorded conversation between the witness and Turatsinze, doesn't specify that the Permanent Secretary intended to solicit a bribe.
"Nshimiyimana's testimonies against Turatsinze are baseless and can't prove beyond doubt, that Turatsinze actually solicited a bribe. This court, therefore, finds Turatsinze not guilty of soliciting and receiving a bribe," Mukagasana said in her ruling.
"Based on evidences produced, court finds Rene Rwego Harelimana not guilty of conspiring to solicit a bribe," she added in her ruling.
Rwego was arrested after he was found with Rwf 490,000 given to him by the businessman, to pass on to Turatsinze.
During the hearing, Rwego had told court that the money prosecution alleged to have been the first installment for the bribe, was payment for a laptop.
Both Turatsinze and Rwego, who have been in custody at Kicukiro Police Station since their arrest, were not in court at the time of the ruling.
Turatsinze's lawyer, Eric Barahira, welcomed the ruling saying that "justice has been served."
"We said it from the beginning, there was nothing to prove that my client committed the crime. We expected this outcome," said Barahira after the ruling.
Turatsinze was appointed the PS in February last year, replacing Eugene Barikana, who was moved to the Prime Minister's Office as the Director of Cabinet.