Rwandan court frees Diane Rwigara, her mother on bail

Friday October 5 2018

EDMUND KAGIRE
By EDMUND KAGIRE
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The High Court in Kigali has ordered the release of Diane Rwigara, a prominent government critic, on bail after more than a year in prison awaiting trial.

A three-judge panel Friday granted bail to Diane and her mother Adeline Rwigara saying the prosecution did not give credible reasons why the pair should continue to be detained.

The decision was greeted with rapturous applause by relatives and friends in the courtroom as the freed women were overcome with tears.

The bail was granted on condition that the two do not leave the capital Kigali without permission, and that they hand in their travel documents to the authorities.

Diane is facing charges of forgery related to her unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2017 in which she was disqualified. She is also accused of insurrection.

Her mother faces charges of promoting sectarianism and insurrection.

The Rwigaras have been in prison since their arrest in September 2017.

They were hugged by excited relatives who had packed the small courtroom before being whisked away by prison guards.

Anne Rwigara, a younger sister who had been arrested alongside her mother and sibling but released without charge, welcomed the decision.

“We are relieved. We thank God for this decision. We are happy the judges decided not to keep them in jail. This is a positive step. The next step is to defend them against the charges,” she said amid tears.

“We are very happy for this verdict. It is a positive development and we are happy the judges listened to our submissions,” said Pierre Celestin Buhuru, one of defence lawyers said.

Appeal

The pair was not allowed to address journalists.

The prosecution said while it respects the bail ruling, it disagreed with it and will consider whether to challenge it.

“It is a court decision; as prosecution we respect the decisions of the court. We will see if the law allows us to appeal but for now we will prepare for the trial next month,” Mr Faustin Nkusi, the National Public Prosecution Authority spokesman told The EastAfrican.

“The bail decision today does not change anything on the charges they face,” Mr Nkusi added.

The trial will resume hearing on November 7.

Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, a prominent opposition politician who was recently granted a presidential pardon after serving six years of her 15-year prison term, welcomed the ruling.

“It is a positive sign for the country. This development coming few days after I was released shows that Rwanda is willing to open up the political space and allow more dialogue. This creates a good image for Rwanda as a country,” Ms Ingabire said.

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