Friday, November 12, 2010

Rwanda: Ingabire Refused Bail

By Ruben Koops
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
12 November 2010


Victoire Ingabire was refused bail on Friday by the Rwandan High Court in Kigali on the grounds of being a security threat to the Rwandan state. After a heated debate between public prosecutor Bonavanture Ruberwa and Ingabire’s legal team, led by lawyer Gatera Gashabana, Judge Johnston Busingye ruled that she had to stay in prison.


According to the public prosecutor, there are new factors in her case that demand Victoire Ingabire to stay in custody. “We are very happy with this verdict, because there are new developments in the case.” Ruberwa said. “We are preparing the final file on her case. I expect that we can send it to the court on Sunday”. The prosecutor would not say what the new evidence is.

Devastated

Ingabire’s husband Lin Muyizere is devastated by the ruling: “I expected that she would be released today, this is an enormous blow.” According to Muyizere, today’s ruling is another episode in a political trial that Ingabire has to go through. “It is so harsh on us, I don’t know what to do. I have to stay close to my children now.”

Victoire Ingabire was transported back to prison following the verdict, Muyizere did not have a chance to talk to his wife. “I try to communicate with her through her lawyer”, he told Radio Netherlands.

Budget Support

Meanwhile the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal is not yet willing to cut development aid to Rwanda because of the Victoire Ingabire trial. An additional factor may well be the assertions made in the UN report on Rwandan involvement in the violation of human rights in East Congo. According to a departmental statement obtained by Radio Netherlands, Rosenthal is willing to debate specific types of direct budget support, meaning money that is received directly by the Rwandan government. A final decision on whether the Netherlands will continue funding the Rwandan government is expected before the foreign affairs budget hearings in mid-December.

After Radio Netherlands reported the arrest of Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, MP’s Dijkhoff (VVD) and El Fassed (GroenLinks) requested clarification from Rosenthal on the Dutch stand in the Ingabire trial. They are concerned about her right to a fair hearing. Both MPs have asked if Dutch embassy staff in Kigali could assist Ingabire with the case against her. But according to Rosenthal, since Victoire Ingabire is not a Dutch citizen, consular aid is limited to physical presence in the court room.

“The Rwandan rule of law fulfils most international standards and is fully independent” Rosenthal states. However, he regards the repeated commentary on the case by Rwandan government officials as "worrisome". Rosenthal confirmed he will express his concern to the Rwandan government, together with other donor countries. Since the publication of the UN Report about war crimes committed against Hutus in East Congo, there has been more international pressure on the Rwandan government to reform.

Lobby

In a private meeting in The Hague on Tuesday, a Rwandan delegation of diplomats and politicians tried to convince several Dutch MP’s that a budget support reduction is not advisable. But according to sources who attended the meeting, the delegation did not succeed in changing their minds. “The Ingabire trial was the final straw for me”, a source says. “We should stop handing the Kagame government any more aid money.” MP Joël Voordewind, who was also present at the meeting, didn’t change his opinion either: “I didn’t hear any new reason to throw my support behind the renewal of this direct budget aid.”

Related Materials:
Against all odds, the High Court denies bail to Ms.Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003

Ingabire's High Court Hearing: The prosecutor’s evidence was fake


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