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Rwanda Jails Nyamwasa for 24 Years for Terrorism

Published on Monday 17th January 2011

A military court in Rwanda has sentenced four exiled former Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) officials to two decades in prison over terrorism.

Lt. Kayumba Nyamwasa and Dr Theogene Rudasingwa were on Friday sentenced to 24 years in prison after the court found them guilty of forming a terrorist group, threatening state security, undermining public order, promoting ethnic divisions and insulting the President. Col. Patrick Karegyeya and Dr. Gerald Gahima were also handed a 20-year jail sentence on the same charges.

The group were close allies of President Paul Kagame whom they accused of murder and conspiracy to have them jailed on politically-trumped up charges. In June last year, the former Rwandan army chief of staff, Lt. Nyamwasa, was shot in South Africa and taken to hospital in critical condition amid claims of a political assassination plan.

Protesting the charges, Dr. Gahima said in a statement yesterday: "We we are innocent of the crimes that we have been accused of. We have not committed any actions that contravene the laws of our country or aim to cause insecurity."

"The court convicted us in spite of the fact that the government did not produce any evidence other than our writings and press interviews that are protected by constitutional guarantee of free speech, to establish the alleged crimes." Col. Jill Rutaremara said the government was pushing for the extradition of the men to serve their sentences in Rwanda.

When asked about what evidences could have been admissible in handing such sentences, Col. Rutaremara said, "According to the laws of the land, the evidence could either have been what they were writing in the press or what they were talking in public." The group said the charges are meant to suppress political opposition, a claim the government denies.

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