Rwanda Information Portal

Dutch Minister to decide on evidence against Rwandan opposition leader Ingabire

by Ruben Koops

Victoire Ingabire - Chair FDU-Inkingi
Will the Netherlands assist Rwanda in its case against jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire? That is the question after a Dutch court ruled today that three documents belonging to Ingabire can be handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Kigali. But despite the ruling, those documents won’t be mailed just yet. The Dutch minister of Security and Justice is responsible for making the final decision and he is under mounting political pressure not to give the documents away.

On 13 December last year, Victoire Ingabire’s house in the Netherlands was searched by Dutch police. She has been accused of collaborating with a terrorist organisation – intent on dividing the people of Rwanda – and denying the genocide of 1994.

The search was conducted under the instruction of the Rwandan authorities that are working on a criminal case against Ingabire. Several documents and computers were seized, and the Rwandan government officially requested that they be in possession of the information.

Most of the seized items have already been given back to relatives of Ingabire, but today’s ruling has decided that there are no legal objections against sending three documents to Kigali.

Political decision

But the Dutch Minister for Security and Justice, Ivo Opstelten, will not base his decision on whether to send the documents to Rwanda or not solely on the court ruling. He will have to request advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – a ministry that decided in 2010 to partially cut funding to Rwanda owing to the African country’s changing stance on human rights. Opstelten also faces pressure from the Dutch parliament where several MPs are very concerned, with suggestions that the Ingabire trial is politically motivated.

“We are helping with the reconstruction of the Rwandan judicial sector, but why hand over evidence to a body that is still under construction?” ChristenUnie MP Joël Voordewind told RNW this afternoon. “Even if this is not a politically motivated trial as the Minister says, why would we coöperate with a criminal case in a country with a far-from-perfect legal system?”

Last week, Voordewind demanded that the Dutch parliament should be informed before the Justice Department hands over any evidence to the Rwanda government regarding the Ingabire trial. If the Justice Department decides to do so, the matter will have to be approved by Parliament.

Supreme Court

Ingabire was arrested on 14 October 2010, and has been awaiting her trial in custody since. The Ingabire trial is scheduled to start on 20 June.

Todays court ruling has not been made public yet. According to an official court spokesperson, the “sensitivity surrounding this case” is an important reason why. And then there is the two week period in which either the Dutch public prosecutor’s office or the Ingabire legal team could decide to take the case to the Supreme Court. A source has confirmed that Victoire Ingabire’s lawyer in the Netherlands considers the current ruling “unsatisfying”.

[Radio Netherlands Worldwide]

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