The Gasabo Intermediate court is expected to pronounce a verdict on Theopiste Nyiramahoro’s case today, a businesswoman from Kirehe district who is co-accused with Alfred Nkubiri in an alleged case of forgery and tampering with exhibits in the ongoing case of embezzlement of billions of funds meant for fertilizers to farmers.
Nyiramahoro appeared before the court via skype from prison to challenge her detention and at the same time answer charges mounted against her.
With her lawyer, Clement Cyiza, Nyiramahoro told the judge that she had been illegally detained and her legal rights abused, for she has been detained without trial since July 17. She also pleaded not guilty and instead appealed to the judge to be released.
The prosecution submitted that due to COVID-19 guidelines, she wasn’t able to be assembled before the court. Nyiramahoro’s lawyer dismissed the argument saying that court hearings have been happening since Agust and her client’s rights were abused whatsover. She added that the prosecution had not even informed her of her charges and continued denying her the right to a lawyer and access to medical treatment for a breast wound despite repeated appeals.
Nyiramahoro also told the judge that she is being forced by the prosecution to admit to false allegations of forgery in a case against Nkubiri, an allegation she made against prosecution.
The prosecution claims she is an accomplice in the alleged crimes against Nkubiri, but could not share material evidence during the hearing. She is accused of having facilitated the creation of alleged ghost lists of fertilizer beneficiaries. “Your honour, I sell fertilizers as an approved agro dealer. Lists are created by local authorities together with MINAGRI, they should be asked those questions,” she pleaded.
In almost an hour-long hearing, which was constantly disrupted by poor connectivity and lack of a sound system to amplify the submissions from both sides, Nyiramahoro and her lawyer challenged the prosecution to provide evidence before the court, of which the prosecution could not.
She proceeded to demand her release and pleaded with the judge that she was not only being detained illegally but has been detained beyond the legally accepted period for any suspect before trial.
The prosecution insisted that she would escape and possibly tamper with exhibits and threaten witnesses. Nyiramahoro told the court that she runs a multi-million business conglomerate and wondered why the prosecution believes she can run away from her hard-earned fortune, flee the country and abandon her family. The prosecution could not dismiss her argument.
A family member who attended the hearing told Taarifa that Nyiramahoro is being witch-hunted by powerful politicians who see her as a threat due to her success and the influence she has gained. “It is a trumped-up case against her, they want to kill her business empire. They are not happy with the way she is progressing,” one of her siblings told Taarifa.
“They are also not happy that she refused to testify against Nkubiri. They kept forcing her to cook up stuff against Nkuribiri. When she refused, she was arrested and locked up for months without a trail,” the sibling said.
The case was adjourned and the judge is expected to pronounce the verdict today, Thursday at 2PM.
Meanwhile, Nkubiri’s case was adjourned to November 27, after his lawyer, Hubert Rubasha, appealed to the court that his client wasn’t able to appear before the court because of severe illness.
At the time of the hearing, he had an appointment with his doctor.
Today, other suspects in the case will appear before the court for substantive hearing.