Abdoul Rachid Hakuzimana, a prominent critic of the Rwandan government known for his outspoken YouTube commentaries, continued his trial on January 10, 2024. He is accused of inciting division among Rwandans and spreading rumors. Hakuzimana told the court that he had been summoned to trial in a manner inconsistent with the law, without prior notification as required by legal procedures for court hearings.
In court, the prosecution presented its case against Abdoul Rachid Hakuzimana. They accused him of inciting division through various YouTube channels by using discriminatory language intended to separate people. The prosecution alleged that Hakuzimana made statements implying that children of officials and Tutsis attended elite schools during the monarchy era, similar to the current situation where children of local leaders attend better schools than others.
He was also accused of saying that the FARG fund only supports Tutsi children from a single ethnic group, neglecting children whose parents were exiled or convicted.
The prosecution argued, “Hakuzimana’s statements were aimed at inciting division, portraying a part of the Rwandan population as neglected, while another part receives attention.”
They also mentioned Hakuzimana’s comments about Boniface Rucagu and Edouard Bamporiki, accusing them of seeking forgiveness from Tutsis on behalf of Hutus without their consent. The prosecution viewed these remarks as potentially inciting conflict among Rwandans.
Regarding the charge of spreading false information, the prosecution noted Hakuzimana used different YouTube channels to disseminate what he claimed was the truth, contradicting established facts. They referred to the trial of Deo Mushayidi to emphasize the responsibility of verifying information sources.
Hakuzimana allegedly stated that anyone considering running for presidency in Rwanda risks imprisonment, citing the cases of Deo Mushayidi, Victoire Ingabire, and Bernard Ntaganda, who were jailed during their electoral campaigns.
In response, Hakuzimana expressed disappointment to the court, stating he had been brought to trial without proper legal notice, preventing him from preparing his defense adequately.
Hakuzimana informed the court and the plaintiffs that he has been a recognized politician since 1992 and a founder of the Party for Islamic Democracy (PDI). He mentioned that some decisions in his case were made outside legal procedures.
The judge responded that the court was unaware of his political status and that it was irrelevant to the charges. The judge also mentioned that any previous decisions made by the president of the high court were beyond their jurisdiction.
When asked if he had anything further to say, Hakuzimana simply stated, “Your Honor, this is regrettable!”
The judge replied that there was nothing regrettable as their actions were in accordance with the law.
Abdoul Rachid Hakuzimana, well-known on social media platforms like YouTube, has frequently claimed to be an independent politician. He faces various charges, including genocide denial, and is currently held in Mageragere Prison without legal representation.
Unless there are changes, the trial is scheduled to continue on February 8, 2024.”