14 May 2018

Rwanda: Supreme Court Pushes Kizito Mihigo's Appeal to June 11

Supreme Court on Monday ruled to adjourn the appeal hearing of musician Kizito Mihigo and his co-accused, Jean-Paul Dukuzumuremyi to June 11.

The two appeared before court on Monday morning without their third co-accused Cassien Ntamuhanga, who escaped from Mpanga International prison in October last year.

In February 2015, Kizito, Dukuzumuremyi and former journalist Ntamuhanga were convicted for crimes ranging from conspiracy to murder and formation of a criminal gang and handed 10, 30 and 25 years in jail respectively.

On their arrival at Supreme Court for their appeal hearing, the panel of three judges presided over by Justice Richard Muhumuza took note of challenges in the case, which included the escape of Ntamuhanga, while Dukuzumuremyi appeared without his lawyer.

At the onset, Kizito asked that his case be separated from the rest of his co-accused citing that there is no "major connection" between his case to that of Dukuzumuremyi and Ntamuhanga.

Kizito also said that considering that he pleaded guilty and prayed for pardon yet his co-accused did not should be enough for their case not to remain enjoined.

His lawyer, Antoinette Mukamusoni told court that the issues with Kizito's co-accused should not be a hindrance to her client's pursuit for preference in law proceedings.

In the end, Ntamuhanga's appeal was annulled based on the code of criminal procedure which provides for the repeal of one's case once they fail to appear before court with no substantial excuse.

The bench could not grant Kizito's request to allow him plead his case differently from his co-accused because he initially acknowledged that their cases are connected.

Court effectively adjourned the hearing to June 11, expecting Dukuzumuremyi to find a lawyer in due time.

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