Rwandan court acquits the Rwigaras

Blanche Robertson
December 8, 2018

But it is also hard to ignore the fact that there was global pressure, including from the US Congress, to drop charges against her - not that Rwandan authorities are in the habit of listening to external voices.

Ms Rwigara was imprisoned for over a year, after being barred from running in presidential elections against the long-standing incumbent Paul Kagame.

The government in September pardoned thousands of prisoners, including an opposition party leader and a political activist, and several analysts said Kagame was loosening the country's political space.

Her 44-year old campaign manager, Thadeyo Muyenzi, went missing and has still not been found.

Rwigara, 37, was accused of forgery in relation to her unsuccessful attempt to run against the long-time president Paul Kagame.

A panel of three judges ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that Rwigara had personally forged signatures.

In Thursday's ruling, the high court judges said the prosecution failed to prove that Ms Rwigara had personally forged supporters' signatures and ruled that her criticism of the government during press conferences was protected by freedom of speech in both the constitution and worldwide law.

"Amnesty International welcomed the court's verdict on Diane and Adeline Rwigara but called on the Rwandan government to do more to protect freedom of expression and political debate: "[They] should never have faced charges for expressing their views.

"This is a testament that all these charges against me and my mother and family members are made up".

Assinapol was an influential industrialist who played an important role in financing the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) in the 1990s before later falling out with its leaders.

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However, he fired more than 50 rounds and had seven high-capacity, 30-round clips on him - a total of 230 bullets. Maples, chief of the California Highway Patrol's Coastal Division during today's press conference.

The court ruled Adeline was merely exercising her right to freedom of speech in a private manner.

After announcing her intention to run for president, nude pictures of the younger Rwigara were leaked online.

"I am very happy with the verdict", said Ms Rwigara, who has been out on bail since October.

Since her arrest, Ms Rwigara's family have been subject to interrogations and their family assets forcibly auctioned.

Her mother faced charges of inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism. "The judgment must be a first step in reversing the ongoing trend of repression in Rwanda".

Kagame is largely credited with the development and stability that Rwanda has experienced since the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed; he has also spearheaded gender equality, and 61% of parliamentarians are women.

Criticism of the government is rarely tolerated and in 2015, he engineered a constitutional amendment which means he can hold the presidency until 2034. She was not allowed to run and Kagame won a third term with 99% of the vote in the August 2017 elections.

Rwanda regularly comes under fire from human rights groups for curbs on freedom of expression, extrajudicial killings, and lack of political freedom.

However its economic turnaround and stability since the genocide has also won the country praise, with Kagame regularly feted on the worldwide stage.

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