Burundi arrests radio chief over link with nuns' murder suspect

Wednesday January 21 2015

A main boulevard in Bujumbura city. This is not the first time the RPA radio station has had run-ins with the government. PHOTO | FILE |

The director of one of Burundi's popular private radio stations was arrested Tuesday evening after broadcasting the alleged confession of a man claiming to have been involved in the murder of three elderly Italian nuns.

A lawyer representing Mr Bob Rugurika, the director of African Public Radio (RPA), said he was accused of complicity in assassination, violating the secrecy of an investigation and lack of public solidarity. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

He was accused of violating the secrecy of an investigation according to article 393 of the penal code, an article that prohibits anyone from revealing information from a criminal proceeding when it is deemed that the revelation may hinder the progress of an investigation.

The confession aired on RPA also revealed information allegedly linking some former government officials to the murder of the nuns in September last year. Police demanded that Mr Rugurika reveals the identity of the interviewee who allegedly confessed to the crimes.

The three nuns of Xaverian catholic order were brutally murdered and decapitated in a convent in Kamege, north of Bujumbura. Days later, a man was arrested on suspicion of being the nuns' killer.

READ: Elderly Italian nuns murdered in Burundi


This is not the first time the radio station has had a run-in with the government. Last April, Bujumbura threatened to shut down RPA after a live broadcast alleged that the Central Bank was set on fire.

The Chairman of the National Communication Council accused RPA of causing panic, saying: "This was false information which wasn’t verified and threatened the national security as well as the economy. For that case we consider the journalist as a liar who said it was fire instead of smoke."

Last week, a top Burundian opposition official was sentenced to five years in prison for bribery following a sex scandal he claims was created to block him from running for president in the General Election set to take place mid this year.

READ: Burundi opposition chief sentenced to five years for bribery