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Rwandan Court rules it has full powers to judge Victoire Ingabire on all counts submitted by prosecution

by Boniface Twagirimana.

Flawed High court ruling on the procedure against political prisoner Ingabire.

Victoire Ingabire in court

Victoire Ingabire in court

Kigali, 13 October 2011 – “I am a political prisoner (…) don’t be afraid, nothing will stop the ongoing political change”, Ingabire told the High Court today after the presiding judge ordered the hearing to proceed.

It was in front of many people, Rwandans and Foreigners including Ambassadors and diplomats from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom that the disappointing ruling was announced. After three days of deliberations the High Court revealed its decision on Ingabire defence submissions on the non-retroactivity of the criminal law, the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court on some counts and the violations of the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda: “the defence procedural submissions on jurisdiction are baseless and the hearings must proceed without any further delay”, said the presiding judge. There is no possible appeal until the end of the whole trial, according to the Rwandan law. The evidential trial has continued today.

The High Court ruled that it has recorded all the submissions, objections and exceptions of both parties and it will take them into consideration the right time. “This court has jurisdiction, and it belongs to the court to interpret all relevant acts of the legislator and to decide accordingly”, read the presiding judge Alice Rulisa.

The idea that the High court might uphold an argument on the illegality of the trial against the opposition leader Madame Victoire Ingabire or the abuse of executive power in the Rwandan judicial is ultimately very naïve. The margin of the court is so narrow that all the legal basis of the non-retroactivity of the criminal law and the jurisdiction of the court was simply excluded from consideration.

Why should reasonable people believe that a governmental appointed court by Paul Kagame’s regime might serve as an impartial referee in a dispute between his regime and his key opposition leader? Those courts are more likely to confirm a political programme set by the victor in order to sit his rule over the country without any dissenting voice. Current courts and judges are depending upon the RPF government by their appointments and tenure.

Madame Victoire Ingabire explained the political context of her case and exposed the continuing interferences of President Paul Kagame and his government in order to silence all dissenting voices. She laid down how the case was masterminded, fabricated after she announced her intention to contest the 2010 presidential elections. She was saddened by prosecutors smear campaign against her family falsely accused of being historical genocidaires while a part of them was slaughtered by Hutu and Tutsi extremists from both the warring sides. Genocide cases were framed against her parents who already suffered ostracism and exclusions when the RPF war started. Her father was sometime before imprisoned for years by the previous regime accusing him of complicity in a failed military coup attempt; he was arrested afresh and accused of supporting the RPF rebellion. After the genocide he was appointed Mayor by the current regime. The father was arrested on his way to swear in as one of MDR party designates Members of Parliament before it was banned. He died afterwards.

Upon her return home, a devilishing campaign was initiated by the highest levels of this regime. The party FDU-Inkingi was not registered and members of the interim Executive Committee are still under a permanent intimidation. With the support of other members, the coordinating committee of overseas members and our political partners, nothing will stop the wind of change and the road to democratisation.

Together we shall overcome.

FDU-Inkingi
Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President.

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