Rwanda: Byabagamba, Rusagara in Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal is hearing the case of Col Tom Byabagamba, Rtd Brig Gen Frank Rusagara and Rtd Sergeant François Kabayiza who were sentenced to lengthy jail terms by the Military High Court three years ago.

The Military High Court in March 2016 sentenced Col Byabagamba to 21 years in jail and stripped him of his military rank for tarnishing the image of the State, public insurrection, illegal possession of firearms, contempt of Guards Coat, and concealing evidence in a criminal case.

The court also handed Rusagara a 20-year jail term for instigating public insurrection and illegal possession of firearms, and slapped his former driver Kabayiza a five-year sentence and a fine of Rwf500,000 for concealing objects which were used or meant to commit an offence.

Court found Byabagamba, a former head of the Republican Guard, and Rusagara guilty of all charges, while it cleared Kabayiza of the charge of illegal possession of firearms. Kabayiza is expected to complete his sentence in a months' time considering that jail terms factor the time a convict was in prison prior to the sentence.

In Wednesday's hearing, the convicts want the Court of Appeal to overturn their convictions and set them free. But prosecution rejected these pleas saying they are baseless.

Before the judges took a break this morning, Byabagamba had applied for bail on the grounds of ill-health pending further proceedings.

Each of the three men has legal representation at the ongoing hearing for which Byabagamba turned up in military fatigue complete with peeps, while Rusagara and Kabayiza are in the traditional green attire for military prisoners.

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