Kigali, 24 November 2011
The evidential stage of the political trial of the opposition leader Victoire Ingabire started on 05 September 2010 almost one year after her imprisonment in maximum security. Until now, the national public prosecution authority is still introducing new contreversial materials . The latest development is the transfer of 600 pages from the Netherlands, a judicial ambush that gives unlimited additionnal time to the prosecutors to keep the opposition leader in prison, officially in order to get the files translated, analysed, and submitted for subsequent court proceedings. In the meantime, the behaviour of the judges has reached a questionnable level of intimidation. Since 22nd November 2011, the hearing was suspended for two days on the request of the key defendant because of renewed threats and attacks from the presiding judge towards the defence counsel. Ingabire stated: “the tense atmosphere of the debates has reached such an alarming level that I don’t trust the fairness of the proceedings anymore. It looks like I have been convicted before we present all our means of defence. This is not a show, it’s my trial. I need deeper consultations with my defence to have a fresh look at this wierd situation”.
The high court and the prosecutor are always siding very closely and become clearly anxious every time the defence details the fabrication and manipulation of the politically motivated evidence by the government. They don’t want to hear anything about the contradictions and inconsistencies of the key prosecution’s witnesses.
A two-day adjournement was granted but the presiding judge ordered the key defendant to present conclusions on 5 counts of genocide ideology; complicity in terrorist acts; discrimination or sectarianism; dissemination of rumors aimed at inciting the public against the existing leadership; recruitment into an armed force. This is a shortcut to convict the political leader without waiting for defence closing arguments.
It’s time for a status hearing of this trial and the ambiguous role of the presiding judge.
The hearing will resume on 25 November 2011.
Interim Vice president.