April 17, 2013

Rwanda Wants 25-year Jail Sentence For Opposition Leader Ingabire

Victoire Ingabire, the Rwandan opposition may get a 25-year-jail term, should the Supreme Court accept the plea by the prosecution to convict her for alleged treason and incitement of violence against government.

It all started after Ingabire was arrested last year after some insurgents linked her to subversive activities in the country. Ingabire was tried and convicted to eight years in jail by high court in October last year, which found her guilty of Genocide denial and conspiracy to cause insecurity.

The same court acquitted Ingabire of other charges such as genocide ideology and fueling ethnic disunity. However, Ingabire rejected the court ruling and appealed to the Supreme Court of Rwanda. As a result, the Rwandan government also filed an appeal in the same court arguing that the opposition leader was handed a lighter sentence.

In the government appeal, Alphonse Hatiyaremye, the Deputy prosecutor general argues that the high court judge ignored important clauses in several laws.

Hatiyaremye told the panel of the three Judges of the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the high court deliberately decided not to convict Ingabire on the crime of spreading rumors with intentions of inciting the public against the state.

Hatiyaremye asked court to find Ingabire, the head of the non-registered FDU party guilty and convict her to 25 years in jail. In April 2012, the prosecution had asked the High Court to hand Ingabire a life sentence but the sentence was reduced in line with the new penal code that was promulgated in May 2012. Ingabire’s lawyers Iain Edwards and Gatera Gashabana have vowed to challenge the submissions made by the state.

Many Rwandan nationals termed as anti-government have fled into Uganda, DRC, Tanzania and South Africa. Analysts argue that should the trend continue, Rwanda is likely to lose all the gains the country has achieved since the 1994 genocide.

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