Kigali 17 December 2012
FDU-Inkingi Chair, Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza sentenced on 30 October 2012 to 8-year prison term by the Kigali High Court on politically motivated charges, has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Rwanda. The notice of appeal was given to the court clerk today and no docket fee was demanded. The appellant will be represented by Batonnier Gatera Gashabana and Barrister Iain Edwards.
Her decision to appeal does not condone the flawed politicized judiciary under the hood of the dictatorship and absence of rule of law but only paves the way to future referral to international, regional or continental jurisdictions and/or international Human Rights courts basing their grounds, merits and eligibility criteria on the rule of exhaustion of domestic remedies.
The High Court convicted Ingabire on two counts of Genocide denial, and conspiracy and planning to cause state insecurity, and was acquitted of four other charges that included genocide ideology, promoting ethnic divisionism and supporting armed groups.
The High Court judgement RP 0081/0110/10/HC/KIG/2011 of 30 October 2012 directed a period of 30 days for the appeal, but the political prisoner Madame Victoire Ingabire was only served with notification by the clerk of court via the Kigali maximum prison only on 29 November 2012. Article 149, sub-paragraph 4 of the Rwandan code of civil, commercial, social and administrative procedures stipulates that the defendant or his attorneys absent during the public ruling shall be served with notification by the clerk; the appeal period starts immediately upon an official issue of a copy of the judgement. Article 163 gives then a 30-day appeal period.
The National Public Prosecution Authority filed its own appeal on case on 29 November 2012 requesting anew life sentence for the opposition leader.
Some key points in the appeal against this kangaroo process highlight the main defaults: failure to ensure that evidence was properly handled; preparation and rehearsals of prosecutor’s witnesses; lack of due process; denial of constitutional rights to free speech, political and civil rights; allegations of tortures and intimidation; sentencing not based on criminal articles and grounds brought up by the prosecutor’s case at any of the stages of the trial; interferences of president Paul Kagame and his government; mishandling of documents from the Netherlands and violation of the agreement relating to the rogatory letters; non retroactivity of the criminal law and lack of jurisdiction of the High Court on those trumped up charges.
FDU-Inkingi Coordinating committee
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana
Kigali 17 December 2012