10 October 2018

Rwanda: Three Imprisoned Ivory Tusk Smugglers Appeal Their Sentences

By Kelly Rwamapera

Three menwho are imprisoned in Ntsinda Prison for illegally dealing in ivory and elephant tusks have challenged their sentences in the Court of Appeal in Kigali.

The appeal hearing for Said Ndahayo, Révérien Nshimiyimana and Emile Mutsindashyaka is scheduled for October 22, 2018.

The trio were sentenced by the High Court Chamber of Rwamagana in December last year after they were found guilty of braking the laws that protect endangered animal species.

They were convicted alongside Modeste Mushimiyimana and Cléophas Harerimana who pleaded guilty and were given lesser sentences.

Nshimiyimana was sentenced to 10 years in prison while Mutsindashyaka, Mushimiyimana and Ndahayo were sentenced to four years each. In addition, they were fined Rwf500,000 each.

Harrison Mutabazi, the Spokesperson for the Judiciary, said the defendants claimed they acquired the tusks from other countries for resale.

How it happened

Nshimiyimana, a resident of Kigali, reportedly called Ndahayo from Kirehe District, to make inquiry on whether the latter had elephant tusks for sale.

In their conversation, the products were code named "Imyumbati yo hasi" (loosely translated to mean cassava).

Ndahayo was allegedly the middleman who had access to the main dealer, Mushimiyimana, who later confirmed that the goods were available at Fidel Kajugiro's home.

Police intercepted and arrested the dealers while Kajugiro who had the merchandise in his house in Kirehe escaped.

Mutabazi says that Rwanda needs to protect her wildlife resources.

"Although it is rare to have cases committed against endangered animal species, the public should be aware of the law but also develop love for such natural attractions" he said.

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