Detectives question Ingabire as opposition leader 'disappears'

Tuesday October 09 2018

Rwanda's opposition leader Victoire Ingabire speaks to the press after her release from the Nyarugenge Prison on September 15, 2018. She was summoned by detectives over statements that she was a "political prisoner" on October 9. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire was on Tuesday questioned by detectives over what they said was her reference to herself and others as "political prisoners".

Ms Ingabire, the unregistered FDU-Inkingi party president, had been summoned by the Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) on Monday just hours after report that two prisoners, one of them her party's deputy, escaped jail.

Mr Boniface Twagirimana, FDU-Inkingi's first vice president, and Aimable Murenzi were reported missing from prison on Monday, the Rwanda Correctional Service spokesman Hilary Sengabo said.

The two men are suspected to have jumped over the fence at Mpanga prison in Nyanza on Sunday, Mr Sengabo said.

But the FDU-Inkingi party, in a statement, said it suspected "foul play" and questioned how Mr Twagirimana could have broken out of jail only five days after he was transferred to Mpanga from Mageragere prison.

The party said according to information it had Mr Twagirimana had been locked up together with a convicted murderer who had been moved to a "semidetached three-room prison house" in Mageragere two days before Mr Twagirimana was transferred to the facility.


FDU also questioned why they were kept away from other prisoners.

"This leaves us to believe that there could be foul play by Rwandan security services,” the party said.

“We call on the Rwandan government to inform the family, the party FDU-Inkingi and the general public about the circumstances of the disappearance of Boniface Twagirimana. He was in the custody of the state which is accountable for his safety,” the statement read.

Mr Twagirimana was arrested in September 2017 alongside seven other FDU-Inkingi members on charges of forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government.

Mr Murenzi was serving a life sentence for aggravated assault with intention to kill and had served more than 10 years.


Ms Ingabire was freed on a presidential pardon recently after serving six years of a 15-year jail sentence.

She has been warned to steer clear of politics in order to guarantee her freedom although she had threatened to continue from where she had left off before her incarceration.

Rwanda Investigative Bureau said Tuesday that Ms Ingabire had been making "factually-incorrect" statements in violation of the country's law.

“Specifically at issue are characterisations of her conviction as ‘political’, and references to others as ‘political prisoners’. Ms Ingabire applied for and received a conditional commutation of the remainder of her sentence, but her conviction by the Supreme Court still stands,” RIB said in a statement.

The authorities said during the interrogation, Ms Ingabire said she had been acting based on "poor advice and ignorance of the law and committed to abiding by the law".

RIB added that her children would be visiting her from the Netherlands under the government's "Come and See, Go and Tell" programme.

Ms Ingabire was arrested in 2010 soon after returning from exile in the Netherlands,

She was charged with belittling the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, forming an armed group and inciting public revolt and handed a 15-year jail sentence.

Immediately after her release, she told journalists that she hoped President Paul Kagame would pardon other ‘‘political prisoners,’’ a statement that some government officials said was misleading.