President Kagame’s former head of security faces 22 years in Rwandan jail

Thursday March 3 2016

Brig-Gen (Rtd) Frank Rusagara (left), Sgt (Rtd)

Brig-Gen (Rtd) Frank Rusagara (left), Sgt (Rtd) Francois Kabayiza (centre) and Col Tom Byabagamba at an earlier hearing. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Ivan R. Mugisha

Col Tom Byabagamba, the former head of President Paul Kagame’s elite guard, could be imprisoned for 22 years on charges of inciting rebellion against the government, disrespecting national symbols, illegal possession of a firearm and concealing evidence.

The term was tabled before a panel of judges at the Military High Court Wednesday by the lead prosecutor, Captain Faustin Nzakamwita.

Col Byabagamba’s co-accused, retired Brig-General Frank Rusagara, faces a similar prison term on charges of inciting public insurrection, while retired Sergeant François Kabayiza faces six years on charges of concealing evidence.

The three army men – who are being tried at the same time – have pleaded innocent to the charges and their lawyers have on several occasions cited contradictions in testimonies provided by the prosecution’s witnesses.

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Byabagamba and Rusagara – who were once close confidants of President Kagame, were arrested in August 2014 and charged with inciting insurrection, tarnishing the leadership, as well as illegal possession firearms. Kabayiza was a former driver of Rusagara.

The trial resumes Friday.

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