Ingabire’s co-accused compromised, says defence

Friday June 21 2013

By Edmund Kagire Rwanda Today

The defence team of jailed opposition politician Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire claims that one of her co-accused, Maj Vital Uwumuremyi, connived with security organs to pin their client on charges to forming an armed organisation with the aim of threatening state security.

Ms Ingabire’s case reopened with the defence maintaining that the Supreme Court should give credibility to the testimony of defence witness codenamed “AA” who last month told the court that she has evidence that Maj Uwumuremyi was set up to implicate the politician.

During the heated proceedings, the prosecution asked the court to throw out the testimony of the defence witness, claiming she has been compromised by the lawyers.

They alleged that she had been coached on what to say in court for payment.

“As prosecution, we have been made to believe that witness ‘AA’ has been compromised and can no longer be considered a key witness in this case,” said prosecutor Alain Mukurarinda.

Among other things, prosecutors said that its investigations found that the witness lied to court about her address, claiming to be from Northern Province yet she was found to be a resident of Kigali who was born in the city.

Among other inconsistences, the prosecution found out she lied that she did not know any person in Ms Ingabire’s yet-to-be-registered FDU-Inkingi yet she was found to have communicated to the party treasurer, Alice Muhirwa, 70 times in just 10 days, according to phone records.

However, defence counsel Gatera Gashabana maintained that there was enough proof that Maj Uwumuremyi was used by state agents in their bid to implicate Ms Ingabire on the charges she is facing.

Promised cash and promotion

Mr Gashabana said that Maj Uwumuremyi, formerly of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was promised a cash reward and a promotion in the army if he pinned Ms Ingabire.

“We have credible information to believe that Maj Uwumuremyi was approached in 2009, ahead of the return of Ms Ingabire in January 2010, and was assigned the mission of implicating Ms Ingabire who was to take part in the 2010 presidential polls,” he said.

“Three people approached him (Maj Uwumuremyi) in the Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre three months to the return of Ms Ingabire.”

When summoned by the court, the director of the Mutobo centre, Frank Musonera, pleaded ignorance of of such activity in regard to the claims.

The Supreme Court also summoned the Director of the Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre Mr Frank Musonera to testify.

Mr Musonera told court that he was not aware of any such activity going on in regard to the claims of the witness, at least not to his knowledge.

Ingabire is accused by the state of conspiring with four former members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to form an armed group with an aim of destabilising Rwanda.

She denied the charges even though the state alleges it has strong evidence.

The four men Maj Vital Uwumuremyi, Lt. Col Tharcisse Nditurende, Lt. Col Noel Habiyambere and Jean Marie Vianney Karuta pleaded guilty to the charges and asked for the courts leniency.

Ms Ingabire returned to Rwanda at the beginning of 2010 to take part in the presidential polls the same year but she was to be arrested and charged.

Her case has been marred by accusations of political interference.

There have been calls to the government by human rights groups to ensure that a fair trial that meets international standards is delivered in the case which has put Rwanda in the spotlight since 2010.