Rwanda: Over 20 RNC Terror Suspects Appear Before Military Tribunal

A military police officer takes hand-cuffs off suspects at the Military Tribunal in Nyamirambo, Kigali.

A group of 25 RNC combatants captured earlier this year during operations by the Congolese army has been arraigned before the Military Tribunal in Nyamirambo, Nyarugenge District.

The group, which includes Maj (rtd) Habib Madhatiru, a former officer in Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), was captured from DR Congo where they were fighting in preparation to launch an attack against Rwanda.

They are part of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a terror group created with an aim of unseating the Kigali government.

Some of the suspected terrorists arrive at court. (Photos by Emmanuel Kwizera)

The Congolese military has of recent intensified operations against negative forces operating in the country, including RNC, which had established a base in Minembwe, in South Kivu Province of DR Congo.

The Minembwe base, according to a report by the UN Group of Experts released in December last year, was primarily a logistical and training base for RNC, which has since formed a coalition with other anti-Rwanda forces, including FDLR, to form an outfit called 'P5'.

The outfit has at its helm Kayumba Nyamwasa, a convicted former senior officer in Rwanda Defence Force, according to the report by the group.

Kayumba was in 2011 sentenced in absentia to 24 years in prison after he was convicted of multiple charges, including terrorism, genocide denial and crimes against humanity.

Local and international media get briefed before the arrival of the suspects.

The UN report said that the outfit was receiving local and external support, citing Uganda and Burundi as main sources of new recruits and logistics.

Several accounts by captured combatants, including two senior FDLR commanders, have since corroborated this account.

A few weeks after the Congolese military intensified the operation against the 'P5' combatants, photos of an injured Maj (rtd). Madhatiru, the RNC top field commander, along with several other captured combatants, surfaced on social media.

Military officers remove handcuffs from the suspects before the start of the hearing.

It also emerged that Madhatiru's deputy Capt (rtd) Charles 'Sibo' Sibomana, had been killed, along with several other fighters, by Congolese forces during the operation.

Before crossing into the Congo, both Madhatiru and Sibomana had been living in Uganda working closely with Ugandan military agencies to recruit and transport new recruits to the training bases across the border in the Congo.

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