Rwandan opposition leader Bernard Ntaganda appears in court
Kigali: Opposition politician Bernard Ntaganda along with other opposition members was on Tuesday charged with four counts including terrorism after about 10 days in custody.
Appearing before the Nyamirambo court of first instance, Ntaganda and eight others are charged among other cases trying to cause instability in the country. In his defense, Ntaganda instead says this court is incompetent to handle his case as a senior political figure in the country.
Prosecution claims the PS Imberakuri founder – now controlling a dissident faction, is a threat to national security – in which the protests he organised on June 24 are cited. The state also charged him with forming a terrorist organisation.
The state says Ntaganda tried to hold an illegal gathering without the permission of the authorities.
Carrying boxes of documents including protest posters and crude weapons allegedly which were to be used to cause chaos in the June protests, prosecution claims Ntaganda has been trying to destabilize the harmony in the country.
However, court was forced to adjourn after it was challenged that it was not the appropriate instance to try him because he is a leader of a political party. Court over-ruled him later that he was being tried as an individual for crimes committed personally.
For these cases, prosecution wants Ntaganda to stay in custody for the next month as investigations continue.
In lengthy submissions, Ntaganda, himself a lawyer, denied all the charges and dismissed prosecution claims as politically motivated. He said it is only the high court which can handle his case as a party leader.
The other co-accused including FDU-Inkingi vice president and other top members, are charged with two counts including forming a terrorist group and organizing unlawful gatherings.
Some 30 people were arrested on June 24 at the US embassy as they prepared to demonstrate against the National Electoral Commission. Incidentally, the protests happened as President Kagame was submitting his papers at the commission to vie for the August 09 polls.
Court adjourned the case for Wednesday morning.