Rwanda: Military Court Adjourns Kinigi Terror Trial to Next Month

25 November 2021

The Military High Court has postponed to December 9, the trial of the 38 persons being prosecuted in connection to the P5, a coalition of anti-Rwanda militias that perpetrated deadly attacks against citizens of Kinigi sector in Musanze district in October 2019.

The attacks claimed 15 lives, injuring 14, in addition to destruction and looting of property.

The 38 suspects face various charges ranging from murder and armed robbery to terrorism and attempting to use war to remove the current government.

During the latest hearing that took place on Thursday, November 25, the three-judge bench hearing the case decided to postpone the trial to next month, after a no-show by a lawyer representing four of the defendants.

The lawyer in question - Aimable Mfashingabo represents Saidi Ndayizeye, Ibrahim Nduwayezu, Tharcise Ntezimana and Gregoire Simpunga.

Though his clients were willing to take to the dock even in the absence of their lawyer, the judges resolved to push the trial to a further date so that their right to legal representation for the suspects is respected.

"When we look at the principles that Rwanda has in its constitution, we find that the right to legal representation is one that is irrevocable and of high value," said the presiding judge as he announced the trial's postponement.

By the time of the postponement, the trial had reached an advanced stage where military prosecution was presenting to court the punishments it thinks are befitting for each of the defendants.

So far, prosecution has prescribed penalties for 33 of the defendants - and it is life-imprisonment for all of them.

In the next hearing, the court will hear what the prosecutors have to say in regard to the penalties of the four remaining defendants, before giving time to the defendants and their lawyers to react to the prosecution's claims.

In the upcoming sessions, the civil party is also expected to present to the judges the compensation that they are seeking for the victims of the attacks.

The victims are represented by three lawyers: Alice Umulisa, Marie Louise Mukashema and Gilbert Ndayambaje.

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