Ingabire case: Rusesabagina, Burundi intelligence chief named
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:07
Kigali: Prosecution on Thursday paraded in court the two alleged “accomplices” of firry opposition politician Ingabire Victoire – proving the case that she was planning to launch an armed rebellion against government, RNA reports.
Dressed in civilian clothing, looking healthy and calm, Lt. Col Noël Habiyaremye and Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende appeared at the Gasabo Intermediate Court to hear the charge sheet. Lt. Jean Marie Karuta, the third accomplice was not there.
State prosecutor Richard Muhumuza, who is handling the Ingabire case, branded the two men as terrorists whose intent are on removing an elected government from power through armed rebellion. According to the state, the two men are ex-army officers who fled to Zaire (present DR Congo) where they took part in several Rwandan rebel forces –up until the current FDLR group.
Before Judge Mbishibishi Morris, Mr. Muhumuza read the charge sheet of Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende separately from the other co-accused. The state claims that the two belonged to terrorist groups, and had recently launched another plan to cause state insecurity in Rwanda.
The men were allegedly officers in Rwandan rebel groups including the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR); FDLR-FOCA – then left and started drafting plans for other armed groups. Col. Mbiturende supposedly also worked with the ex-Burundian rebels, the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) - who are now in government.
The two accused accepted all the charges with minimal denial, but not without linking their activities to other individuals.
Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende, who is said to have been working with Ingabire Victoire to form FDU-Inkingi/CDF, but the group is only mentioned by the acronyms, he claims that he met with Ms. Ingabire in Kinshasa and Brazzaville (Republic of Congo).
The deal was that they would use all the resources at their disposal to infiltrate into Rwanda to promote their ideas so as to get recruits. Later, as prosecution explained, the final destination would have been Kigali to oust the Kagame administration.
As for Lt. Col Noël Habiyaremye, prosecution claims he was working with exiled vocal politician Paul Rusesabagina – who rose to fame in 2005 with the release of the movie “Hotel Rwanda”. Using his fame and money, government in Kigali accuses him of trying to undermine its authority.
Col. Habiyaremye is alleged to have left the FDLR to join forces with Mr. Rusesabagina to form the armed wing of the Party for Democracy in Rwanda (PDR-Ihumure). According to prosecution, Mr. Rusesabagina wanted to use rebels to “force” government to negotiate with him.
However, when it came to time for the judge to ask the men what they have to respond to the charge sheet, the two admitted to all charges, but said the Prosecutor had not arranged well the events as per the timelines and other details.
The state prosecutor said the men were arrested in Burundi where they had gone to meet top members of former FDD rebels, Brig General Adolphe Nshimiyimana, who is now the Burundian intelligence chief. He is also a very close ally to President Pierre Nkurunziza.
According to prosecution, the two men were in Burundi seeking “military and political support”, but were informed by Gen. Nshimiyimana that armed rebellion is impossible in this region.
However, the bombshell was yet to come. Instead of the Burundians letting them go, they were arrested and handed to Rwanda authorities on September 21st, 2009.
The state told court that it wants the two officers to stay in detention – describing them as “dangerous criminals” who could flee the country. As for the separate defense lawyers, they pleaded that the men be set free to enable them prepared their case.
The defense accused the government of illegally arresting their clients and even keeping them in detention beyond the prescribed period without charges.
Court will rule on Friday as to whether the accused should be granted a 30-day bail.