News / Africa

Rwandan Military Court Overrules Legal Challenge

Defendants in this week's trial at a Rwandan Military Tribunal, May 16, 2014. (Photo: Nicholas Long for VOA)
Defendants in this week's trial at a Rwandan Military Tribunal, May 16, 2014. (Photo: Nicholas Long for VOA)
Nick Long
A Rwandan military court has ruled it is competent to try 14 civilians accused of involvement in terrorism. On Friday, a judge turned away a legal challenge to the court's competency by lawyers for the accused.

A trial of 14 civilians and two ex-soldiers restarted at the military tribunal this week after a three-month adjournment.

The defendants are charged with belonging to terrorist movements and with involvement in an alleged terrorist campaign last September, when grenades exploded in a market place and on a street in Kigali a few days before parliamentary elections.

The alleged ringleaders of the group were arrested in Uganda last year and extradited to Rwanda.  

This week the court has seen video testimony from two of the accused, Joseph Nshimiyimana and Innocent Kalisa. Nshimiyimana is accused of bringing the grenades to Kigali from the Democratic Republic of Congo, although prosecutors say the people who actually threw the grenades are still on the run.

Kalisa is accused with a co-defendant, Lieutenant Mutabazi, of plotting to assassinate President Paul Kagame aboard a boat on Lake Muhazi in the east of the country.

On Friday, defense lawyers challenged the competence of the military court to try most of the defendants, who have yet to be called to answer precise charges.

One lawyer, Maitre Viateur, argued that for all 16 defendants to be tried together, the prosecution must show that the crimes they are charged with took place within a certain time and space.

"The place where these acts were committed must be specified," he told the court, arguing that  "If you say it was in Congo and Rwanda and Uganda you might as well say it was in Australia or in Europe."

But a prosecution lawyer counters that whether the crimes were committed in Rwanda, Uganda or Congo, the essential point was the links between the accused.

The defense disputes these alleged links, which it says have not been demonstrated.

Before ruling on the defense lawyers' challenge, the court called on each of the accused to state their position.

All the civilians except one denied any link with the co-accused ex-soldiers - Mutabazi and Kalisa - and all denied any involvement in terrorism. They did admit to involvement in a banned political movement, the Rwanda National Congress. 

Simon-Pierre Mahirwe, a teacher, says he does not accept that he should be tried alongside Lieutenant Mutabazi, because he does not know Mutabazi and Mutabazi never mentioned him in his testimony.

The other defendants echoed that view.

But in his ruling, tribunal president Major Bernard Hategekimana upheld the court’s competence to try the accused, and outlined alleged links between them.

He says the conclusion is that the supreme military court has the competence to judge all the accused and he is pronouncing this in their presence.

He further announced that the trial will continue on June 17.

One of the co-founders of the Rwanda National Congress, General Kayumba Nyamwasa, formerly a senior army commander, is currently in exile in South Africa, where he has survived two attacks by unidentified armed men.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs