Court To Decide If Detained Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi For Bail Or Jail
Kigali: Paraded in court Thursday, detained opposition politician Deogratias Mushayidi rejected being branded a terrorist due to his alleged links to the Rwandan FDLR rebels – saying he would detail why that was not illegal, RNA reports.
Looking tired in his eye-glasses, backed by two lawyers, Mushayidi listened intently as prosecution listed the charges against him. At some point, when the charge of links to the FDLR rebels and terrorism acts were read to him, he laughed in silence.
State prosecutor Richard Muhumuza told a packed Nyarugenge Court of Higher Instance that Mr. Mushayidi has six cases to answer for including links to FDLR as a terrorist group; Genocide negationism; using forged documents and undermining state authority by spreading harmful propaganda.
The preliminary appearance became another center of drama as Mushayidi dismissed all the five charges, admitting only that of using forged documents, but also explaining why he did so. Though he had lawyers by his side, he was required to respond to the charges personally.
According to him, the Burundian passport he allegedly forged was granted to him officially which he has used since 2006.
On terrorism charges – specifically links to FDLR rebels, Mr. Mushayidi told court that the agreement he signed with the rebels in 2007 did not have any security threats as alleged by prosecution. He said he would defend himself during the proceedings to show the court how having connections to the rebels does not constitute a crime.
Prosecution also claims Mr. Mushayidi has been spreading harmful propaganda which undermines state authority by constantly making baseless accusations through the internet and publishing documents distributed in Rwanda. The state also says he has been distributing membership cards for his new party PDP-Imanzi.
The defendant said this was meant to promote his political party, and that there was no way he would spread his ideas to the people.
However, when it came to deciding whether Mr. Mushayidi should be released on a submitted bail application, court became more heated, as his lawyers came in – detailing the legal grounds which back bail. The two lawyers argued that bail was a constitutional right.
The defense also said the defendant needed to be out of detention to be able to prepare his case, a position which the judge dismissed.
Prosecution pleaded that Mr. Mushayidi was not liable to bail because he has already fled the country before – arguing there is no guarantee he will not do the same thing again. State Prosecutor Muhumuza said the accused should continue to be held for another 30 days.
Court said it will rule on the bail application on Friday at 1400hours (1200GMT).
Immediately Mr. Mushayidi was hooded back onto a waiting police vehicle back to his cell in Kicukiro police station.
It is now 14 days Mr. Mushayidi is spending in detention after having been arrested in Burundi, and handed to Rwandan authorities three days later. The Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga told a press conference that Mushayidi was behind the series of grenade attacks which has rocked the country. This was not mentioned among the charges.
Mr. Ngoga also said Mushayidi was working with fugitive Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and ex-intelligence chief Col Patrick Karegeya to destabilize the country. This was also not mentioned by prosecution.