25 September 2017

Rwanda: Diane Rwigara Arrested Again, Now Faces Treason Charges

Photo: NBS TV/Youtube
Businesswoman and women's rights activist Diane Rwigara when she joined the presidential race.

Rwanda's disqualified presidential candidate Diane Rwigara now faces fresh and more serious charges that include treason, inciting revolt and revealing "sensitive information".

She was arrested on Friday afternoon alongside her mother Adeline and sister Anne.

Although the trio had always been driven back home by police after routine interrogations at the Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) in Kigali, Friday was different in light of the newly revealed accusations.

"The decision to arrest was in addition to the behaviour of the suspects during preliminary investigations, particularly their consistent refusal to cooperate with the police and publicly revealing information that is, by law, supposed to be confidential," Police spokesperson Theo Badege said in a statement Sunday.

Detain a suspect

"The Criminal procedure law gives investigators powers to detain a suspect for a maximum of five days in order to conclude investigations and decide, based on the evidence, whether or not to forward the case to prosecution."

Hours before Ms Rwigara's arrest, The EastAfrican interviewed her at her residence in Kiyovu, where she denied all the charges, claiming that her family was being "persecuted for criticising the government".

"I am at the CID from early morning until 2am or 3am almost every day. Police comes to pick us and drops us back home almost every day. Money was taken from our bank accounts; the accounts were frozen and all our businesses have shutdown," she claimed.

"We kept money in our house because the accounts were frozen, but even that money - close to $150,000 was taken by police. Our movements are confined and everyone we talk to is monitored."

Ms Rwigara said that police had confiscated all her family members' national IDs, passports and drivers licences, which had made it "impossible" for them to move from the house.

"The first week we had no food and no way to call our lawyer or talk to anyone. They surrounded our house with lots of security agents and journalists," she said.

Ms Rwigara's troubles spiralled shortly after she had been disqualified from running for president in the August polls.

The National Electoral Commission disqualified her on grounds that she had presented fake endorsement signatures in her presidential bid as required of independent candidates.

A few weeks after the elections, Ms Rwigara was detained at her offices in Nyamirambo where police made a search and confiscating documents and computers, before driving her to her home, where more documents, gadgets and money were confiscated.

Were detained

They were then handcuffed and taken to police for interrogations but returned home - and for that period they were asked to report to police for routine interrogations.

A few days later, their house was again raided by police again - and Rwigara and her mother were detained for "disobeying summons to report to police for interrogation".

On Monday morning, a local website published a story alleging a plot by the Rwigaras to overthrow the government, working with several exiled groups including Rwanda National Congress (RNC).

The website also published phone conversations between Diane's mother and her young sister (Diane's maternal auntie) who lives in Canada during which she expressed her fears that vital files had been intercepted in Diane's luggage, which could implicate her in activities to overthrow the government.

Ms Rwigara has previously denied working with exiled opposition groups.


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