Rwanda : Victoire Ingabire sentenced to eight years imprisonment after a trial marred by irregularities and a lack of transparency

Press release
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On Tuesday 30 October 2012, Victoire Ingabire, President of the Unified Democratic Forces opposition party (FDU-Inkingi), was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment by the High Court of Kigali for “conspiracy against the country through terrorism and war” and “genocide denial”. FIDH denounces the numerous irregularities tainting the fairness of Ingabire’s trial.

Detained for over two years now, Victoire Ingabire was prosecuted on six criminal counts linked to acts of terrorism and genocide ideology [1] because of her presumed relations with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebel group. Known for her criticism of the current government, particularly during the 2010 presidential election, Victoire Ingabire was found guilty of “conspiracy with a view to harming the State, through war and terror” and of “genocide denial”. The Public Prosecutor has sought life imprisonment.

Since 16 April 2012, Victoire Ingabire had been boycotting her trial in protest against intimidation and illegal interrogation procedures imposed on some of her co-accused [2], as well as against the Court’s decision shorten the hearing of a defence witness accusing Rwandan authorities of fabricating evidence against Ms. Ingabire. “By ignoring these accusations, the High Court of Kigali did not ensure the objectivity and reliability of the elements of proof brought by the Public Prosecutor”, regrets Mr. Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and Head of its Legal Action Group (GAJ).

Furthermore, the context in which Ms Ingabire’s seven-month long trial took place was tense. Members of government did not refrain from making comments suggesting Ms Ingabire’s culpability, throughout the duration of her trial. “The ill-timed statements of politicians are detrimental to the good functioning of the judiciary and lead us to raise doubts regarding the absence of political interference within judicial proceedings”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “Rwandan authorities must respect the separation of powers and ensure the independence of the judiciary”, she added.

Ingabire’s lawyer has already stated that he will lodge an appeal against this judgment before the Supreme Court of Rwanda.

FIDH calls upon the Rwandan authorities to comply with its international obligations with regard to the administration of justice.

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