Aimable Karasira: Trial Continues Over Genocide Denial and Other Charges in Rwanda

On January 23, 2024, the trial of Aimable Karasira continued in the specialized chamber of the High Court in Rwanda. Karasira, a former university professor in Rwanda, faces six charges including genocide denial, inciting public disorder, and failing to disclose the source of his wealth, all of which he denies.

Karasira arrived at the court carrying a small jerrycan of drinking water, removing his shoes, known as ‘bodaboda’, at the entrance, a gesture he explained as a sign of respect, akin to entering a temple or mosque. The prosecutor presented evidence including Karasira’s own videos from YouTube.

Regarding the charge of genocide denial and justification, the prosecutor emphasized Karasira’s statements in which he allegedly claimed the genocide was not planned. Karasira countered in court, insisting he never denied the genocide, acknowledging its planning and personal loss it caused him, and expressed willingness to provide evidence.

For the charge of inciting public unrest, the prosecutor highlighted Karasira’s remarks about the Rwandan military, particularly his comments about high-ranking officers being ‘from Uganda’, suggesting these statements were intended to turn public sentiment against the current government.

Concerning the financial impropriety and undisclosed wealth, it was noted that Karasira had over 38 million in various currencies in his account, including more than 11 million Rwandan francs, dollars, and euros, without clear legal sources. During the hearing, Karasira informed the court of a change in his legal representation, distancing himself from his initial lawyer, Me Evode Kayitana, due to lack of communication. He requested more time with his current lawyer, Me Gatera Gashabana, and sought a younger lawyer experienced in technology-related issues.

Gashabana raised concerns about difficulties in meeting privately with Karasira at Kigali’s Mageragere Prison and reported unknown individuals attempting to eavesdrop. The court promised to address these concerns with the prison authorities. The trial is set to resume on April 3, 2024.

Background on Aimable Karasira: Aged 46, Karasira was arrested in 2021 on charges including “denying and legitimizing the Tutsi genocide”. Shortly before his arrest, he spoke on his YouTube channel ‘Ukuri Mbona’ about his life, accusing former FPR-Inkotanyi soldiers of killing his family. He claimed that post-genocide, he was denied support given to survivors, citing the belief that “his parents were killed by the Inkotanyi”. Karasira, who lives with his mentally ill brother and has spoken about his own struggles with severe depression, was dismissed from his teaching position at the University of Rwanda in 2020. The University stated his dismissal was due to “behavior and opinions contrary to the values and responsibilities expected of an educator.”