Rwandan YouTuber detained over fraud, impersonation

Friday May 15 2020

Rwandan authorities have remanded a YouTuber over impersonation, forgery and rebelling against security guidelines.

Dieudonné Niyonsenga, the owner of popular YouTube channel Ishema TV was on Thursday denied bail by the Kagarama court in Kigali and remanded to 30-day custody.

He was arrested mid-April for breaching lockdown rules and for issuing his driver unauthorised press pass.

"The prosecutors proved that the charges against Niyonsenga are serious. He will be remanded for a period of 30 days," a three panel judge in the pre-trial said.

Niyonsenga did not appear in court and had no lawyer. If found guilty, he faces up to ten years in prison.

His driver is also charged with using false documents.


Meanwhile, another Youtube star Theoneste Nsengimana charged with fraud was released on bail Thursday afternoon.

Investigators accuse Mr Nsengimana of promising slum dwellers Rw20,000 ($ 21) to claim that they were receiving aid from abroad during lockdown “for the purpose of soliciting the story for his own benefit.”

Prosecution argued that the fraud crimes he is charged with are grave and grounds enough to remand him.

However, judges said that the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to deny him bail.

"Nsengimana will be released on bail, there is insufficient evidence to continue holding him. The prosecution has five days to appeal this decision," the judges ruled.

Last week, two other bloggers who were arrested for violating the lockdown guidelines were released.

After their arrest, the media regulator Rwanda Media Commission issued a statement saying that online bloggers and YouTubers are not journalists and are “not authorised to interview the population.”