9 October 2017

Rwanda: Prosecution Conceals Details in Rwigara Case Over 'Witness Protection'

Photo: Diane Shima Rwigara/Twitter
Diane Rwigara being taken to court.

The Nyarugege Intermediate Court in Kigali has adjourned "for the last time" the pre-trial hearing of government critic, Diane Rwigara, who is facing charges of forgery and attempted insurrection.

This comes after prosecution declined to provide the prosecution's case to the defendants, citing the need to protect state witnesses.

The defendants' lawyer, Pierre Celestin Buhuru, had told the court his clients were not well acquainted with the case. The prosecution contended that they had been told "everything they needed to know".

"We have several witnesses who were interviewed and we have a duty to protect them from any harm. Investigations are also still ongoing. We therefore cannot give Lawyer Buhuru the complete file but we have made the charges and the evidence available to the defendants," prosecution told court.

Diane Rwigara is on trial alongside her mother Adeline Rwigara and sister Anne.

Mr Buhuru had requested for five days to prepare, on grounds that he had not been provided with a complete file of charges against his clients, but this was also denied.

"Five days as requested by Lawyer Buhuru cannot be accepted due to the urgency of this case. This trial will therefore be adjourned to Wednesday, but this is for the last time," the judge said.

"On the claim that the accused were not informed of their charges; we find that the charges are well known from the file that we have and this cannot prevent the trial from going on."

The judge then ordered Mr Buhuru to acquaint himself with the necessary details of the case before trial resumes on Wednesday.

Diane Rwigara was barred from contesting the presidency in the August 4 election, and is now charged with forgery and inciting insurrection.

Her mother is charged with inciting insurrection and sectarian practices, while Anne is charged with inciting insurrection.

A charge previously investigated by police, accusing the family of evading taxes worth over $5.9 million (Rwf5 billion), was dropped.

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