Rwanda:Throwing someone in jail for being critical of government policy is extremely sad, Ingabire tells the Supreme Court.

Kigali, 30 April 2013-Continuing her submission to the Supreme Court, Mrs Ingabire told the Court that it is the duty of the Party she leads FDU-Inkingi to point out what is going wrong with government policies so that they are able to correct them. She said that it was sad that someone could be thrown in jail because he/she has criticised government policies. She added that it was time the government stopped considering those who criticise it as enemies but take them as people who are keen to build their country. The solution to the problem that the country is facing, she said, can only be solved through dialogue and political debate. She stated that as long as the regime continues to refuse such a dialogue and political debate and throws anyone who tries to point out what is wrong with government, she would consider the regime to be dictatorial.

The prosecution is appealing against three things: the High Court’s decision to clear Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza of the charge of forming an armed group and of spreading rumours intended to turn the population against the government and the High Court verdict to reduce her sentence.

With regard to the 1st account, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza pointed out that the Prosecution had failed to provide evidence to prove that the armed group ever existed, what it did and the role that she had in inciting its creation. Victoire added that the evidence that she produced before the court demonstrated that the idea was hatched by the CID and the prosecution, in collaboration with Major Uwumuremyi Vital. She added that the High Court had rightly cleared her because of lack of evidence from the prosecution.

The charge relating to spreading rumours intended to turn the population against the government had been based on three things namely what  Victoire Ingabire said in her interviews with journalists, her writings and her speech at the airport. What the Prosecution did was to pick a few words she had said or written and took them out of context to pin her down. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza told the court that FDU-Inkingi decided to come to operate in Rwanda because of the problems facing the country and the Prosecution has not proved the contrary of what she said or wrote.  She said: “the High Court cleared me of the charge of spreading rumours intended to turn the population against the government because the Court was convinced that my criticism was not intended to turn the population against the government and that we did not just show what is wrong but also suggested solutions”

With regards to the appeal of the Prosecution relating to the reduction of her sentence, she said that the verdict of the High Court was reached in line with the law and based on the evidence presented to the court by the Prosecution.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza made it crystal clear that the letter she sent to the Head of State was not to beg presidential pardon.  She was responding to government officials who had been asking her to hold discussion but had replied that she could not hold discussions while she was still in prison.

The court sessions will resume on the 8th of May 2013 when the defence of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza will present its submissions.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President