Rwanda: Ex-Minister Bayigamba Charged, Asks for Bail

Photo: New Times
Robert Bayigamba, the former Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture appearing before the Nyarugenge Primary Court.
14 November 2019

Robert Bayigamba, the former Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture on Wednesday appeared before Nyarugenge Primary Court where he was formally charged.

Appearing before the Nyamirambo-based court, Bayigamba was charged with fraud and acquiring someone's property through fraudulent means.

He denies the charges.

According to the prosecutor, Bayigamba fraudulently sold three plots of land to three different people, taking money from them.

In one of the transactions, the ex-minister is said to have taken a Rwf220 million as advance payment on the sale from one of the buyers, a one Jean Claude Hagenimana, pending transfer of documents, a process he shunned.

According to prosecution, Bayigamba also submitted the title deeds for the same pieces of land as collateral to two creditors he owed.

However, according to Christophe Niyomugabo, his lawyer, according to law, the strong reasons for someone to be suspected of the crime of fraud were not presented by the prosecution.

Niyomugabo said that a person is called a fraudster when they use another person's name or position to acquire something, or perform a task for which they do not have competence; or promise favours or instigates fear in those they deal with in order to get something.

"Has prosecution produced any evidence to the effect that Bayigamba perpetrated fraud by assuming a name that is not his? Or did usurp the functions to offer a service he is not competence to provide?

"Or did he promise any favours or instigate fear to get a desired outcome? Basing on the law, this is what prosecution should prove," he said.

Bayigamba was in court clad in grey chinos, a T-shirt and brown slacks and a black leather jacket.

Prosecution requested that Bayigamba be remanded pending further investigations, saying that he was a flight risk owing to the fact that he has a large family abroad.

In addition, the prosecutor said that Bayigamba made much money on the fraudulent sale of the pieces of land which may be motivation enough for him to flee despite other property he has in the country.

According to the prosecutor, Bayigamba has made about Rwf850 million from the land.

He also hinted on the possibility of the defendant to interfering with evidence if he is left on bail.

However, Bayigamba's lawyer said that his client owns Manumetal a major manufacturing plant and can therefore not flee justice, adding that the contested Rwf850 million is less than the worth of the company whose market value he put at Rwf3 billion.

The bail ruling is expected to be read on 18 this month.

Bayigamba has also previously served as the Chairperson of Private Sector Federation, as well as president of the National Olympic Committee.

Bayingamba was arrested on October 22 and has had his bail hearing postponed twice; once on the account that he did not have a lawyer, and on the second time it was due to the fact that prosecutors were having a general assembly.

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