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Rusesabagina’s Lawyer Says ‘Case Is Not Political’

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David Rugaza, a lawyer personally picked by terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina to help fight a legal battle against serious criminal charges against him through Rwandan courts, says this case is not political and has strong conviction that his client is innocent.

On Wednesday, Taarifa’s investigative team held a lengthy conversation with Counsel David Rugaza and explored a range of issues surrounding this upcoming case of Paul Rusesabagina recently captured by Rwandan authorities.

On representing a Hollywood engineered hero, Rugaza says he is proud to have been selected by his client, “I’m very happy to be with my client. Lawyers we have a prerogative to make a choice.”

Questioned on some assertions that this is a politically prompted case, Rugaza was very categorical in his submission; “May be if you journalists want to make it political, I don’t know. For me, I’m defending criminal matters. For the political issue, I’m not a politician to know what is political or not…. [laughs]. My expertise is in legal matters.”

A few days ago during a televised interview, President Paul Kagame said your client has blood on his hands…Doesn’t this set the tone or even affect the outcome of the court process? Taarifa wuerried him….[takes a deep breath]..”That one I reserve it to the court. How can I know it before the court hearing? I can’t know what is in the heart of the Judges moreover they haven’t been appointed and the case hasn’t reached court. Unless if you want me to dream.”

Taarifa: As a legal representative of Rusesabagina don’t you think the president’s comments will affect the court process?

Rugaza:  I am not a legal representative, I’m his assistant. That is not in my scope.

Taarifa: Do you think you will win this case?…

Rugaza: “[pauses]…how can I tell you that I will win or lose . Answering you as a lawyer, a lawyer has never won or lost a case. It is the client that loses or wins a case in court. As a lawyer I don’t have a case in court – it is my client that has a case to answer.”

Taarifa: Some critiques argue that you have been planted to represent Rusesabagina.

Rugaza: Thank you for that question. You cannot expect someone to speak the way you want him to speak. Everyone has freedom and right to speak what he wants. If there are some people who have said that, it is their wish.

..and the conversion continued late night.

On whether Rusesabagina speaks to his family, Rugaza says, “Yes. Even today evening. As a lawyer, I requested that he speaks to his family. They spoke for a long time and it is not the first time. Even previous day he spoke to the children. They held a good conversation and I noticed they are well.”

Rugaza said he had already made formal requests to  Rwanda Investigative Bureau to release his client and investigations be conducted while his client is out of detention; “I requested RIB investigators to provisionally release him since criminal procedures allow that a suspect can be investigated while they are free subject to provisions of article 82.”

According to Rugaza, his client is a trustable and a man of good standing in the whole world and has been awarded for it, “My client has never been sentenced for any offence anywhere before. This shows how much my client is credible and if released he cannot disrupt investigation. I will continue to demand for his provisional release at all stages.”

In a video that has been circulating allover social media platforms indicating Paul Rusesabagina declaring war and ordering forceful means by use of arms to remove the regime in Kigali and later terror attacks in communities around Nyungwe forest in south western Rwanda, Rugaza has a different argument saying he cannot pronounce himself on a video to which its proof of authenticity of content in the video has to first be investigated.

Taarifa: Is Rusesabagina sorry or remorseful for his actions on Rwandan territory that have caused death, injuries and trauma?

Rugaza: Why do you want me to talk about a file under investigation? Once they submit the case to court you can come and hear.

[On Wednesday Rusesabagina appeared before the National Public Prosecution for the first time since he arrived in the country. He arrived in company with Rugaza.]

Taarifa: Are you worried about being your client getting a fair trial?

Rugaza: I cannot say that am worried while the conditions are observed unless they are not observed.

Taarifa: In which language do you speak with Rusesabagina?

Rugaza: All languages that he uses, I use the same to speak to him.

…..Rugaza explains that he did not know Rusesabagina before. “I first met him when I recently met him. The Rwanda bar association has a service of pro bono cases. Rusesabagina was provided a list of lawyers and he requested for our CVs. That is how he selected me and we began conversations.”

However, Rugaza remains non-committal on how his client was arrested and how he found his way on Rwandan territory. “There are some points we have not yet discussed,” Rugaza said.

Commenting on conditions in detention, Rugaza told Taarifa that his client is well cared for; “he sleeps perfect in normal circumstances and condition that he is supposed to be provided for and treated as a human being. He has long time illness and has been to King Faisal Hospital for treatment.”

Kagame Insists Rusesabagina Must Account For Rwandans He Killed

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Crime

FLN (National Liberation Front) Members Sentenced for Terrorism Offences

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Today, the High Court Chamber for International Crimes deliver its verdict on 21 defendants who, as members of the National Liberation Front (FLN), have been accused of terrorism charges, with three convictions being handed down so far.

The charges related to acts of terrorism, focusing particularly on two organised attacks that took place in 2018. The brutal and unprovoked attacks, carried out by the FLN, tragically took the lives of nine innocent Rwandans, including children aged 13 and 17.

They left many others gravely injured, and caused significant material and economic damage in South-West Rwanda.

Among those sentenced was the FLN’s commander and spokesperson, Callixte Nsabimana, who was arrested in 2019.

Prior to this, he had claimed responsibility for the 2018 attacks, and had announced plans for further attacks. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, having pleaded guilty to most charges.

Another FLN spokesperson, Herman Nsengimana, was sentenced to five years in prison. A member of the CNRD (Conseil national pour la renaissance et la démocratie), Nsengimana was arrested in 2019 in Congo’s South Kivu province along with over 400 other CNRD insurgents.

The CNRD is a splinter faction of the Congo-based FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). It was led by FLN co-founder Colonel Wilson Iratekega until his death in January 2020.

Also convicted was the FLN’s founder, Paul Rusesabagina, who was sentenced to twenty-five years. Prior to the trial, Rusesabagina publicly admitted to founding the group as the armed wing of his political party, the MRCD (Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change). He had repeatedly expressed support for the group’s activities, including after the 2018 attacks.

Rwanda Government Spokesperson, Yolande Makolo, remarked: “This lengthy trial has exposed the terrorist activities of the FLN group led by Rusesabagina.

The evidence against the accused was indisputable, and the people of Rwanda will feel safer now justice has been delivered.

The trial has been a long and painful ordeal for the victims of FLN attacks, particularly for those who were called upon to testify. Our thoughts today are with these brave witnesses, and the family and friends of the victims.”

 

Important notes on the case

1) The first FLN attack took place on 19 June 2018, in Nyabimata, Nyaruguru District. A subsequent attack took place nearby, in Kitabi, Nyamagabe District on 15 December 2018. Nine Rwandan civilians lost their lives in the attacks. The victims included two children: Ornella Sine Atete (13), and Isaac Niwenshuti (17).

2) In December 2018, Callixte Nsabimana, also known as “Sankara”, took to international radio and social media to announce that the FLN had claimed responsibility for these attacks. He was arrested in April 2019, and immediately pled guilty to 16 charges of terrorism.

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Crime

Mozambique Court Hears Africa’s Biggest Corruption Scandal Case

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A court in the Mozambique capital Maputo is hearing a case that has been described as the biggest scandal on the African continent.

Details indicate that It is one of the biggest corruption scandals on the continent, and it involves some of the most senior figures in the state.

Five years after the biggest corruption scandal in the country was revealed in 2016, the trial has opened in Maputo.

Since 23 August, the 19 Mozambican defendants, including the son of the former president, Armando Ndambi Guebuza, have been appearing before Judge Efigenio Baptista.

The latter is presiding over the hearings which are to be held until December 2 in front of a prison in the capital.

Cited by several defendants as a key figure in the case, the current president and defense minister, Filipe Nyusi, will not be heard and continues to deny any involvement.

At the origin of the scandal which plunged the country into an unprecedented financial crisis: the secret and illegal subscription by three Mozambican companies of a loan of more than U$ 2 billion – U$2.7billion according to the Maputo court – guaranteed by the Mozambican State.

The sums, paid between 2012 and 2013, were to be used to finance a vast project of shipbuilding, fishing and maritime surveillance headed by the French construction company CMN (Mechanical constructions of Normandy) owned by the Lebanese group Privinvest Holdings.

As early as 2015, the house of cards collapsed as the revelations followed one another. Parliament, supposed to guarantee the loan, was never consulted.

The project, which was to be development-oriented, is in fact mostly military. Companies have never been fully operational. More than U$ 713 million in extra billing has been identified …

A complex montage, intended to fuel a sprawling system of corruption in which some of the high-ranking figures in power circles are involved.

In addition to three Swiss bankers and a Lebanese intermediary, some fifteen very senior Mozambican officials are suspected of having shared more than 200 million bribes …

The country’s already battered economy is collapsing. The direct and indirect consequences of this fraud have already cost U$ 11 billion, or U$ 400 per capita – the equivalent of 70% of GDP in 2019 – according to Chr. Michelsen Institute, a Norwegian organization, which estimates that more than 2 million Mozambicans have been thrown into poverty.

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Crime

Two Drug Dealers Arrested with 7,493 Pellets of Cannabis

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Rwanda National Police (RNP) arrested two people on Saturday, September 11, in Nyabihu District with 7,493 pellets of cannabis.

The suspected drug dealers identified as Theoneste Niyomugabo, 21 and Twizerimana Hitabatuma, 34, were intercepted in Nyakigezi village, Gakoro cell, Rugera sector as they carried the narcotics on a bicycle.

The Western region Police spokesperson, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi said that the suspects were intercepted by traffic Police officers on duty.

“Traffic Police officers who were on duty in Nyakigezi village, stopped three people who were on one bicycle ridden by Theoneste Mugabo with a sack. When Police officers searched the sack they found it contained pellets of cannabis. Mugabo and Hitabatuma were arrested by their third accomplice fled in the process,” CIP Karekezi said.

Upon their arrest, the suspects disclosed that they got the narcotics from Musanze District and that they were enroute to Muhanga District to supply their clients.

CIP Karekezi warned commercial bicyclists and taxi-moto operators against engaging or facilitating drug traffickers

The two suspects were handed over to RIB at Rugera station for further investigation while the search of accomplices is still ongoing.

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