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

Video VOA ‘Town Hall’ Shines Light on Ebola Crisis

Experts call for greater speed in identification and treatment of deadly disease More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Funding Program Helps Extremely Poor in Ghana

Broad objective for Ghana's social cash transfer program is to lessen the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable people, elderly, orphans, those with disabilities 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid