Rwigara denied bail in Rwandan court

1072

A Rwandan court denied bail to a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame who was barred from running against him in an August election and later jailed on charges of incitement and forgery widely seen as politically motivated.

Diane Rwigara and her mother, Adeline, who was also refused bail, said they planned to appeal. Her sister Anne, a US citizen, was granted bail.

All three women are charged with inciting insurrection while Diane is also accused of forging signatures of people she said backed her run for president. Rwigara said the charges are intended to silence her family and supporters as punishment for her political ambitions.

Rejecting the bail request, the lead judge of a three-member panel said there was “strong evidence” to prosecute Rwigara.
“Both Diane Rwigara and Adeline Rwigara must be remanded for 30 days,” she said.

The 35-year-old accountant has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s near total grip since it fought its way to power to end a 1994 genocide.

She planned to run against Kagame in August but her candidacy was blocked by the electoral board on the grounds she had not submitted sufficient supporters’ signatures and some names she did send in belonged to dead people.

Kagame won the election with 98.8% of the vote.

Adeline and Anne Rwigara earlier told the court they and Diane were tortured and deprived of food while in jail awaiting trial, including being kept in solitary confinement and “handcuffed day and night”.

On Friday, a UN sub-committee on the prevention of torture suspended a visit to Rwanda, citing obstructions by authorities.

The Rwandan government denied impeding the investigators’ work and said the allegations were baseless.

Diane’s brother Ariote Rwigara said the bail denial was “absurd” and the charges against his mother and sisters were like those used by “tyrannical governments of the middle ages”.

Human rights groups say Kagame muzzled independent media and suppressed potential democratic opponents. Some critics of government have been imprisoned or killed.