RWANDA-GENOCIDE: Corrupted witnesses withdraw their charges in Urayeneza Gérard’s case

Urayeneza Gérard

By Nkurunziza Gad

On March 25, 2021, the High Court of Muhanga sentenced Urayeneza Gérard (one of the founders of the University of Gitwe) to life imprisonment for complicity in the crimes of genocide and for the crimes of distortion of evidences of genocide. Two of the prosecution witnesses withdrew their charges saying that they have been bribed with food and drink.

Witnesses Musoni Jerome and Ngendahayo Denys were among those who gave the testimonies on the basis of which the Muhanga base court sentenced Urayeneza Gérard to life imprisonment.

In the appeal, Musoni and Ngendahayo said they have been bribed by Ahobantegeye Charlotte, a former Gitwe University employee in charge of stewardship. This woman, while still on duty, was accused of embezzling more than 10 million Rwandan francs from student fees, and was sentenced by the Muhanga High Court on July 30, 2020.

The testimonies were delivered in the Urayeneza trial on appeal against the highest conviction, before the High Court, the Special Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes.

“I did not see a gun neither for Urayeneza nor for his children.”

Musoni told the court that Ahobantegeye made him drunk (she bought him drinks and he got drunk), after getting drunk he wrote a letter accusing Urayeneza of committing the crime he didn’t actually commit. As he said this, Musoni whimpered, expressing remorse for what he was urged to do.

In his first testimony, he said that Urayeneza had a gun during the genocide against the Tutsis, but on appeal he replied: “I did not see Gérard with a gun and not even his children.”

As for Ngendahayo, he explained that Ms. Ahobantegeye corrupted him with food and money. “Ahobantegeye Charlotte has studied at university, she is smarter than me. All I said was what she told me to say. She gave me food, a mixture of rice and corn paste, and taught me everything. I don’t know anything bad about Gérard or his colleagues. ”

Among others who have testified to withdraw their charges against Urayeneza is Ms. Beatrice Nyirasande, who previously claimed that Urayeneza was involved in the death of her brother. On appeal, she said she gave false testimony. “It was Kamanzi who encouraged me to lie.”

Urayeneza is the victim of the refusal to give contributions to the RPF 

The case of old Urayeneza Gérard began to be widely reported in the Rwandan media at the end of 2018. At the time, some faculties of the University of Gitwe including that of medicine were closed, accusing the university of lacking adequate teaching material and qualified teachers.

One of the University staff in those years told us that all these accusations against the University were false, but that the university was the victim of not giving an appropriate contribution to the ruling party in Rwanda.

He declared: “A few years ago, they were trying to annoy him. The RPF leaders sent their children or relatives to university, but they refused to pay the school fees, thus wanting the children to study for free. I know two children sent by Ngarambe (the head of the RPF), his nephews, who studied medicine for free. Imagine that the school fees were over two million, but someone decides, just because he is a great authority, to send two children to study for free and live in the boarding school where they always eat for free […] then one day Urayeneza said that one of the students was going to be kicked out to come back after paying fees. This situation caused a lot of shouting and a sort of commotion at the University. ”

He continued: “Urayeneza is one of those traditionalist Adventists who does not get involved in politics. Since the end of the genocide, he has been ordered to contribute to the RPF, he refused to do so, but when there is an action of public interest in the Gitwe zone, he makes an important contribution. But the RPF authorities do not want that, they wanted him to contribute to the party and give what he was asked to give, he refused. ”

The complot of Muvunyi and Ahobantegeye destroyed the University of Gitwe and Urayeneza 

Dr. Emmanuel Muvunyi, former Director General of the Higher Education Council “HEC” and close friend of Ines Mpambara, former director in the Rwandan presidency, helped destroy Gitwe University and fabricate crimes against Urayeneza. He achieved this helped by Ahobantegeye, as they had a close relationship.

“When Muvunyi came to head HEC, he wanted to be one of the shareholders of Gitwe University. But Urayeneza categorically refused, showing him that the University belongs to the parents. And above all, they don’t need a new member. Then Muvunyi swore to vanger – that he will make Urayeneza pay hard.”

“He then started coming to Gitwe very often, until he had a close relationship with Ahobantegeye. He tells her that she must be vigilant and makes her understand that the Hutus are cruel that she must be careful. What I am telling you is what Ahobantegeye herself told me because I am also a survivor like her. Muvunyi then entered into an intimate collaboration with Ahobantege until he even asked her to steal the University files and bring them to Kigali where she spent nights in hotels at Muvunyi’s expense. ..], what happened next was that the University was ordered to close some faculties at the expense of the students.”

On January 23, 2019, a group of 16 people led by Urayeneza Gérard was received by the Rwandan Parliament, in the Education Commission, the group had gone to provide detailed explanations to the alleged injustices inflicted by the High Council of Education ( HEC). ) when it was headed by Dr. Muvunyi.

At that time, Dr. Innocent Kabandana, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Gitwe University, said that Dr. Muvunyi and HEC pressured the university until it closed, alleging that the University had problem of unqualified teachers while many of these teachers also were teaching in the Department of Medicine at the University of Rwanda.