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Rwanda: No bail for Bernard Ntaganda as his co-accused go free

Bernard Ntaganda in court

Bernard Ntaganda in court

Kigali: The chair the PS Imberakuri party Bernard Ntaganda was the only defendant to be further detained at Friday’s trial against the nine opposition leaders accused of terrorism and unlawful gathering.

The seven others present were released; five on conditional bail and two without any conditions. Alice Muhirwa, who collapsed in court Wednesday, did not appear in court today for the verdict. She, however, has left hospital and is back in custody awaiting the court’s decision on her bail application.

In a fully-packed courtroom, Ntaganda was remanded for 30 days until the High Court set a date to hear his appeal. During the reading of the 20-minute verdict, Ntaganda often turned his attention away to the audience. He even made eye contact with Victoire Ingabire, the leader of UDF-Inkingi party who was seated right behind him, and shrugged his shoulders.

Maitre Gatera Gashabana, the lawyer defending Ntaganda and his colleagues, welcomed the release of the seven defendants calling it a very good decision. “The judge took the law into consideration and it shows me we had an independent judge.”

Theogene Muhayeyezu, UDF-Inkingi’s lawyer, and Sylvere Mwizerwa, a member of Ntaganda’s party PS Imberakuri, were both released without conditions.

“I will continue my political career,” said Mwizerwa.

The other defendants Theobald Mutarambirwa, Sylvain Sibomana, Martin Ntavuka and Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa were ordered to appear before the judge the first and last Friday of every month until further notice.

Ntaganda, a lawyer and leader of the opposition party PS Imberakuri, represented himself during the trial.

Along with accusations of terrorism and organizing an unlawful gathering, Ntaganda was charged with ethnic divisions and Genocide ideology – two extra charges than his other eight defendants. He denies all charges and will remain in Kigali Prison until the High Court sets a date to hear his appeal.

Bernard Ntaganda immediately appealed the judge’s decision not to allow him bail. Court had granted him five days within which to file an appeal.

[ARI-RNA]

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