Kagame's Critic Diane Rwigara Cleared Of Insurrection And Forgery

Evarado Alatorre
Diciembre 8, 2018

Fierce Kagame critic, Diane Shima Rwigara, who was granted bail in October after spending over a year in jail has been acquitted of charges including inciting insurrection, tax evasion, offences against state security, use of counterfeit documents among others.

Her mother, Adeline, was also acquitted of charges of inciting violence and conspiring to incite an insurrection.

Ms Rwigara already spent one year in prison after being barred from running in presidential elections against the long-standing incumbent Paul Kagame.

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

Rwigara's father, a prominent businessman who was once close to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RFP), was killed in a road accident in 2015.

"I am very happy with the verdict", Rwigara told journalists after the high court ruling on Thursday.

"Diane and Adeline Rwigara should never have faced charges for expressing their views", said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty's regional director.

The court ruled that Diane Rwigara did not incite violence and was only exercising her freedom of speech when she criticised the presidency in her press conferences during her stint as presidential candidate hopeful.

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Rwigara and her family faced a series of arrests without specified charges.

Ms Rwigara, who is described as "fearless" by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda's leaders to account.

Some Rwandans in the capital, Kigali, said they were shocked by the court's decision.

"We call on the Rwandan authorities to build on this judgement and work towards developing greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative and critical views".

Kagame has won global praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

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.

He became president in 2000, a post he might hold until 2034 thanks to a constitutional amendment waved through three years ago.

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

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