Rwanda: Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi To Stay Behind Bars
Kigali: Controversial politician Deogratias Mushayidi has now been moved to the maximum security prison ‘1930’ after court backed the prosecution position that bail could mean fleeing the country, RNA reports.
Judge Yvette Uwantege, of the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court ruled in a much-expected decision that Mr. Mushayidi should stay behind bars for the next 30 days until proceeding for the case start. He has been held at the Kicukiro police station as the state built the charge-sheet.
State prosecutor Richard Muhumuza had argued on Thursday during the preliminary appearance that bail for Mushayidi would be tantamount to giving him free space to flee the country like he has done before. The accused could also temper with possible evidence, according to prosecution.
Despite pleas from defense counsel Protais Mutembe – who has defended some of the country’s top criminals, that Mr. Mushayidi had the constitutional right to bail, the lady judge ruled that does not apply to the accused. Mr. Mutembe said he would appeal the decision.
Judge Uwantege said the charges are serious. She cited Mushayidi’s links to a terrorist group after he signed an agreement with the FDLR in 2007. Another ground the Judge cited was that Mushayidi has been undermining state security by propagating harmful information.
Mr. Mushayidi has published widely alleging that the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels – specifically its head President Paul Kagame assassinated ex-leader Juvenal Habyarimana. The vocal former journalist-turned politician has also fiercely defended the position that the President’s death prompted the Genocide – which the court says amounts to Genocide negationism.
On the charge of forging documents to which he admitted on Thursday, the Judge said there was no guarantee such acts will not continue when Mr. Mushayidi is out in the public.
On arrival and during the session, Mushayidi looked relaxed and smiled constantly as he listened. After the brief court appearance lasting about 15 minutes on Friday afternoon, Mr. Mushayidi was hooded straight to a waiting police pickup truck headed for the notorious Kigali Central Prison – known here as ‘1930’.
Mr. Mushayidi is charged with six counts including links to the FDLR as terrorist group; Genocide negationism; spreading harmful propaganda to undermine state authority; and using forged documents.
For the defense, the court’s decision was “disappointing”. Defense attorney Mr. Mutembe told reporters that he was immediately going to file an appeal with the same arguments.
“We will present the same grounds as those we put forward during the preliminary appearance,” said Mr. Mutembe, who has a track record of defending top criminals including fugitive ex-intelligence chief Col Patrick Karegeya.
Mr. Mutembe is also attorney to opposition politician Ingabire Victoire of FDU-Inkingi as she battles Police accusations that she is linked to the FDLR among other allegations. She has been summoned several times, as the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) puts together her file.