14 December 2013

Rwanda: Ingabire Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

Photo: The New Times
Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire appears in court with the co-accused (file photo).

The Supreme Court yesterday increased Victoire Ingabire's jail term to 15 years from eight years earlier ruled by the High Court, after it found her guilty of inciting the masses to revolt against the government, forming armed groups to destabilise the country, and minimising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

"The court has found Ingabire guilty of spreading rumours with an intention to incite the public to rise up against the State, endangering state security and minimising the 1994 Genocide againstthe Tutsi. For that, she's sentenced to 15 years in prison," Justice Immaculee Nyirinkwaya announced.

Both Ingabire and prosecution had appealed the earlier sentence.

The evidence of Ingabire's trial shed light on her active participation in the leadership of the armed terrorist group made up of the Congo-based militia Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, which is responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The trial also revealed Ingabire's role in assisting in the escape of her mother, Therese Dusabe, who was sentenced to life in prison after Mageragere Gacaca court found her guilty of torture by disembowelling Tutsi women at Butamwa Health Centre where she was a nurse.

Although often described as political opposition, evidence collected on Ingabire's FDU-Inkingi mission with the help of the Netherlands police proved its goal was far from political.

Among the evidence were plans for armed activities to be undertaken by FDU-Inkingi. The documents, which Ingabire later admitted to owning, calls for a change of tactic used by FDLR to one of terrorist acts and destabilisation strategy.

Meanwhile, Ingabire's co-accused Vital Uwumuremyi saw his appeal rejected by the Supreme Court. The High Court found him guilty of conspiracy to harm authorities through terrorism and war and complicity in the act of terrorism for which he was sentenced to four years and six months jail term.

The other three co- accused; Jean Marie Vianney Karuta, Tharcisse Nditurende and Noel Habiyaremye completed their sentences.

The four admitted they were arrested while still members of the Congo-based FDLR militia and confessed that Ingabire had approached them with view to launching an armed rebellion against the Government.

Upon returning to Rwanda from the Netherlands in 2010, Ingabire, 44, headed straight to the Kigali Genocide Memorial centre where she gave a speech where she described the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as a double genocide.

Yesterday's verdict was delivered in a packed courtroom, with both Ingabire and Iain Edwards, one of her two counsels, in attendance.

Justice Nyirinkwaya said that the three charges Ingabire was found guilty of amount to a sentence of 27 years but the court reduced it to 15.

Prosecutors argued that Ingabire's earlier sentence was too lenient and were seeking 25 years imprisonment. They had also asked the Supreme Court to restore the dropped charges.

The ruling means Ingabire will spend a further 12 years behind bars having served three years already.

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