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RWANDA: Court adjourns the Rwigaras case to July 24

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Ms Adeline Rwigara (left) and her daughters Diane Rwigara (centre) and Anne Rwigara are escorted by security officers to a police van after a Kigali court adjourned the pre-trial hearing in which they are facing criminal charges on October 9, 2017. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

THE EAST AFRICAN – The case involving Rwanda’s former presidential contender and government critic Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline Rwigara was Tuesday adjourned to July 24.The court in Kigali made the decision after lengthy deliberations over additional individuals prosecutors want tried alongside the Rwigaras.

Those wanted are Diane’s aunt, Ms Tabitha Gwiza Mugenzi, who resides in Toronto, Canada, Mr Xaverine Mukangarambe and Mr Jean Paul Turayishimiye, who lives in the US, and Mr Edmund Musheija, who lives in Belgium.

Diane’s lawyer Pierre Celestin Buhuru said that if the prosecution could not produce the four in court, the trial of the duo, who face charges of inciting insurrections, promoting sectarianism and forgery, should be proceed.

Legal procedures
Mr Buhuru noted that it was the duty of the state prosecution to have the four individuals arraigned in court and failure to do so should not bear on the case of the other two suspects.

“The prosecution should have summoned the four to appear in court through known legal procedures, or if they can’t do so, our clients should be able to go ahead and defend themselves against the charges,” the lawyer said.

Prosecutors said that at that point they were not certain about the whereabouts of all the four, who they accuse of eluding justice at first but later changed position.

“We pray that the judges carefully consider the desires of my client in light of this challenge,” Diane’s lawyer said.

Diane and her mother were present at the High Court during the Tuesday session, which was attended by relatives and former employees of the family enterprises.

The judge too sought to understand why prosecutors were saying that the four people accused with the Rwigaras were eluding justice yet there had not made efforts to bring them to book.

The prosecution explained that at the time Ms Mugenzi and others left the country, they were not wanted individuals.

After over two hours of deliberations, the judge said there was a lot of missing information on the four individuals, but concluded that they should be summoned as people whose whereabouts were unknown.

The taxman
The hearing was adjourned to July 24 to allow the prosecution time to gather more information on the four

Diane and her mother have been in jail since September last year when police stormed their residence in Kiyovu, Kigali and arrested them.

The embattled family was also battling the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) over allegations of tax evasion.

RRA, in March, auctioned the family’s property for $599,040 (Rwf512m), in a bid to pay off more than $5.85 million (Rwf5bn) in tax arrears.

The Rwigaras allege that the charges against them and the woes with the taxman were politically motivated, partly due to Diane’s decision to contest for presidency last year, and the family questioning the manner in which the patriarch, businessman Assinapol Rwigara, was killed.

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