Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rwandan Opposition Leader Victoire Ingabire, Sentenced to 8 years in Jail


Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu Rwandan who fled to the Netherlands during the Rwandan Genocide, was jailed shortly after returning from exile in April 2010 and barred from a presidential election.  Ingabire was found guilty of two of her six charges:  treason for conspiring war against the country by sending money to Hutu extremists, as well as Rwandan genocide belittling. She was sentenced to eight years in jail, but may only serve six years due to time served. Prosecution initially asked for a life sentence.

Her lawyers contest that no true evidence was ever presented to justify charges against Ingabire.

 Terrorism charges were dropped against Ingabire during the two-year trial and her genocide denial charges are a result of her questioning why Rwanda's official memorial to the 1994 genocide does not include any moderate Hutus, who were slaughtered by Hutu extremists.

Ms. Ingabire thinks the true reason for her arrest is that she dared to run in the presidential election as a candidate for the United Democratic Forces party, challenging the sitting president Paul Kagame. Mr. Kagame is the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, whose military victory ended the genocide in Rwanda. He has been the president of Rwanda since 1994.  His final presidential term ends in 2017.

Ingabire doesn't consider the current Rwandan government under Kagame to be a democracy, but more-so authoritarian.  Kagame has received mixed reviews from observers. Some praising him for his role in Rwanda's recovery after the genocide, but others feel he's sending a grim message to other Rwandan political parties that they could become political prisoners too.
Phil Clark, a lecturer at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, is quoted in the New York Times saying “I think this verdict will certainly cause concerns that if they contest they may find very serious charges brought against them as well,” he said. “It sends a warning to other parties who may want to run in future elections.”  
Ms. Ingabire has 30 days to appeal against the verdict.

No comments: