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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Kagame , The USA Darling and African economic model who violates human rights with impunity :The danger of running from one USA client state and hiding in another USA slave state : Former Kagame bodyguard attacked in Uganda


FIRST READ:

From the lion’s teeth to the lion’s den : Karegeya’s daughter caught in Rwanda-Uganda passport fix

http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2012/07/from-lions-teeth-to-lions-den-karegeyas.html

When Rwandan Refugees Die like rats amidst Global silence: Rwanda Journalist Shot in Kampala

http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2011/12/when-rwandan-refugees-die-like-rats.html


Former Kagame bodyguard attacked



By Risdel Kasasira 


Posted  Tuesday, July 17  2012 at  01:00


A former bodyguard of President Paul Kagame who fled Rwanda to seek refuge in Uganda was last week attacked by unknown gunmen at his residence in Kasangati, Wakiso District.

Lt. Joel Mutabazi escaped unhurt during the Thursday night attack where he has been living with his family for the last two years.

Lt. Mutabazi and his family have now camped at Kasangati Police Station for safety. According to police sources, he has been given a metallic container where he is staying with his family.

The Kampala Police Metropolitan spokesperson, Mr Ibin Senkumbi, confirmed the incident but said he had no details of the investigation.

Mr Senkumbi referred this newspaper to the Police spokesperson, Mr Asuman Mugyengyi, who he said had all the details but Mr Mugyenyi did not answer our repeated calls. According to police sources, the attackers shot thrice inside Mutabazi’s house after persistently knocking on his door.

Revelations

“I think they feared to enter the house probably they knew he is a commando and would have disarmed them,” the source said, adding, “he hid behind the door as the attackers fired inside the house. That is how he survived,”

It is not clear how Mr Mutabazi fled Rwanda and came to Uganda but those close to him say he worked as Kagame’s presidential republican guard. There is increased fear among the Rwandan refugees in Kampala, who say they have come under increased attacks by unknown armed groups. “Kampala is increasingly becoming unsafe for us,” said one of the refugees who did not want to be named because of fear for his safety.

Two weeks ago a retired Rwandan soldier, Sgt Dominique Nsabagasani, who fled Rwanda in 2009, disappeared and police is carrying out investigations. His wife, Ms Jose Mukadepite, yesterday said for the last three weeks, they have had no clues on whereabouts of her husband. Last year, a Rwandan journalist Charles Ingabire was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Kampala.
rkasasira@ug.nationmedia.com


Comments on  Article

Kampala is NOT SAFE for dissidents of Kagame regime, because the regime of Kagame originates from Kampala. Dictators tend to have very powerful and well coordinated external security service, especially for the case of Rwanda, Uganda is a very significant country and therefore they would have loads of their security operatives silently patrolling every part of the country to ensure dissidents are dealt with. This is too bad for African political development.


Liiso DDene 2 days ago
Is this what has Kagame hsa turned out to be? God have Mercy on Rwanda....this is going back full circle! That beautiful country is still dogged by the very demons that led to the genocide. My Rwandese friends have always said that Kagame is a tyrant,I always chose to believe otherwise,they said the hutus were still taunting the tutsis,I chose to believe in reconciliation....but at this rate,I think there is little hope for Rwanda. I foretell this...Kagame will never relinquish power and he is going to entrech himself and his family into power in Rwanda. Who wants to bet with me 1M on this?

Rwandan refugee goes missing in Kampala

http://www.inyenyerinews.org/amahanga-2/rwandan-refugee-goes-missing-in-kampala/  

July 16, 2012 By Rwema IT Webmaster

A Rwandan refugee has gone missing after leaving home to attend a church service in Kisenyi, Kampala central. Mr Dominique Nsabagasani, former Rwandan Defence forces sergeant, fled Rwanda in 2009 and sought asylum in Uganda. His wife, Ms Jose Mukadepite, told Sunday Monitor that her husband received a phone call from a pastor called Peter Maaso to attend a church wedding and has since gone missing. “When his phones went off, I went to the church, but I was told by his aides that the pastor was away on a trip, yet he had talked to my husband,” she said.

Pastor Maaso confirmed they talked on phone but said Nsabagasana’s phone went off before they met.  “He called me, saying he wanted help but up to now I have not seen him,” he said. “They have brought police to my home. I fear for my life.” Early this year, a Rwandan journalist, Charles Ingabire, who had sought asylum in Uganda, was shot and killed in Kampala.

Inquiries on The district police commander Old Kampala, Mr Kituuma Rusoke, confirmed the alleged kidnap but said the Central Police Station (CPS) had taken over the investigations. “I was not around when the incident was reported but the investigations are being handled by CPS,” he said.

The Rwandan ambassador in Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambagye, said he was in a meeting and could not comment on the issue. “Please call much later. I’m in a meeting,” he said. Sgt. Nsabagasani was demobilised from the army in 2003 and joined evangelism but fled Rwanda with his family “for fear of persecution”, Ms Mukadepite said.
Other refugees who talked to Sunday  Monitor yesterday said they cannot live in the camps for fear of their lives. “There are many spies from Kigali trailing us,” one of the refugees who didn’t want to be named said. According to documents seen by Sunday Monitor Nsabagasani’s asylum was being processed by the department of refugees under the Office of Prime Minister.

“The above mentioned person is a Rwandese asylum seeker holding refugee Registration number 662-10co1717 in Uganda,” the documents signed by Douglas Asiimwe on behalf of the Permanent secretary.


Kagame in a spot as spate of killings hit Rwanda

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?id=2000012548&cid=289&articleID=2000012548
 
By Juma Kwayera

Last week’s attempted assassination of former Rwanda military boss, Lt-Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, and Friday’s killing of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage has raised serious questions about the conduct of the country’s general election scheduled for August.

Across the East African Community bloc, there are fears President Paul Kagame is bent on pummelling rivals into submission ahead of the polls. Any form of opposition is instantly exterminated, which analysts say explains why Kayumba and Uvumugizi newspaper editor put their lives on the line by questioning human rights abuses in Rwanda.


The two shootings, in addition to harassment by the State of lawyers representing the 1994 genocide suspects, has regional attention fixed on Kigali, which is yet to shed the image of a rogue state.

The shooting of Nyamwasa and killing of Rugambage has echoes of how in May 1998 first post-genocide Minister for Interior and Community Development, Seth Sendashonga, was assassinated by unknown assailants in Nairobi. The mystery Sendashongo assassination has not been resolved to this day.

Just like the case of the minister’s murder, the former military boss’ family suspects Kagame’s hand in last weekend’s aborted assassination in Johannesburg, South Africa.

At that time he was set to travel to Brussels to launch a political party, Forces des Resistance pour la Democratie together with former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu.

Sendashonga was travelling in his wife’s UN car when the assassins accosted him and sprayed him with bullets.
According to Nyamwasa’s wife, Rosette, the former army chief was shot almost in a similar manner. The wife worked with UNEP at Gigiri, Nairobi.

Sendashonga, Twagiramungu and other moderate Hutu ministers were dismissed or forced to leave the Rwandan government in August 1995 for ‘incompetence’.

The same reason was cited when Nyamwasa, a one-time Kagame ally in the Rwanda Patriotic Front, was nearly killed last weekend. Looked through the Tutsi-Hutu ethnic broken mirror, Kagame faces accusations of perpetuating the ethnic hate that led to the 1994 genocide.

Kagame is Tutsi, while Nyamwasa, Rugambage, Sendashonga and the two opposition leaders the government banned from taking part in the August polls are Hutu.

Sendashonga survived the first assassination in 1996, for which a Rwandan diplomat in Nairobi, Francis Mugabo, was accused of executing on behalf of Kigali. 
Despite the criminal charges levelled against Mugabo, Kigali stubbornly declined to waive the immunity from arrest status, which precipitated a diplomatic row between the two governments. Kenya went ahead and severed diplomatic links with Rwanda.


One of the thresholds Rwanda and Burundi committed themselves to meeting before joining the bloc was allowing political pluralism to thrive.

Lawyer Odenda Lumumba, who was in Kigali early this year for an international land policy conference, says the political situation in Rwanda does not augur well for Kagame.

"Kagame is popular, although he has been losing support constantly for harassing the opposition. There is little room for opposition, which is pushing for democratic space. Unless handled carefully, there is a likelihood of a surge in opposition that is increasingly embracing an ideologically revolutionary theory," warns Lumumba.
The lawyer, however, says Kagame is ahead of the rest of the presidents in the region on rule of law and development agenda.

Even though political pluralism is entrenched in the post-genocide constitution, there has been little progress towards competitive politics.

East African Law Society Communications Officer Bobi Odiko says although there has been no official statement by EAC member-states, there are already fears Rwanda is slipping back into the dark days that precipitated the 1994 genocide.

"The assassination and complaints of diminished political space must be investigated fully or else Kagame may not escape the perception that he is behind the killings. Fear has spread in Rwanda that Kagame wants to run the opposition out of town through suppression of divergent views and assassinations," says Odiko.

Curiously, there has been no reaction from the East African Community, in which Rwanda is a member.



Sendashonga Trio Acquitted of Murder.

http://africannewsanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/03/nairobi-sendashonga-trio-acquitted-of.html

26 March, 2007

 Nairobi, 31st May, 2001 (FH) - A Nairobi court on Thursday acquitted all three men accused of murdering former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga, saying that evidence produced by the prosecution did not link them to the assassination.

"The prosecution did not prove that the men who killed Sendashonga were the ones in court," said Justice Msagha Mbogholi. He found that none of the three accused were at the shooting, although the first accused may have known about the plot to kill Sendashonga.

“I am persuaded that the murder was political," Justice Mbogholi said. "The driver may have been killed by gunfire aimed at the late Sendashonga, or to ensure that the identity of the killers was not known.”

Sendashonga was shot dead in his car in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998, along with his driver Jean Bosco Nkurubukeye. Kenyan police arrested three suspects shortly afterwards. They are David Akiki Kiwanuka (Rwandan), Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo (both Ugandan). Police said the first accused, Kiwanuka, confessed to masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 54 million US dollars by Sendashonga, and that the other two suspects had confessed to helping plan the murder. However, all three pleaded not guilty.

Prosecution evidence not convincingJustice Mbogoli summed up evidence heard in court since the case restarted in July 2000. This included the fact that a prior attempt had been made on Sendashonga’s life, in 1996; testimony by Sendashonga's widow in December last year; and that a police inspector had declared in his testimony that his efforts to investigate the case were “frustrated”.

Justice Mbogoli said that the accused had been put on their defence and that they all denied having killed Sendashonga and Nkurubukeye. Three independent assessors who followed the case returned a unanimous decision that the accused were not guilty, he continued, “but it is not binding, and I have made my own independent ruling,” the judge added.Justice Mbogoli said that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Sendashonga and his driver died of gunshot wounds. But he said the two witnesses who saw the alleged killers running away from a getaway car testified in court that the men were “tall”. “The two witnesses were emphatic that these [the three accused] were not the people they saw,” said the judge.

The judge said prosecution had not proved that the three accused were at the scene of themurder. He added that a comb retrieved from the getaway car had hair samples removed, and that tests showed the hair was not that of the accused. Justice Mbogoli said ballistic experts had testified that the deceased were killed with an AK- 47 rifle. It has not been recovered to date, he noted. Police officers had testified that a pistol was found in the home of the accused, but it was not the weapon used in the shooting, he added.

“I believe, however, that the first accused [Kiwanuka] made contact with a police informer [Ali] but that contact ceased after the accused failed to attend subsequent meetings,” said Justice Mbogholi.

The judge noted that although the second and third accused gave police officers their statements, police officer Kathae disbelieved them.Justice Mbogholi said the deceased’s widow, Cyrie Sendashonga, had testified that she believed the killing was political.

“I saw the wife testify, I watched her demeanour and I believe what she was saying is true,” Justice Mbogoli said. He added that Mrs Sendashonga had lived with the deceased for 23 years and must have known him well. She described him as a man of high principals, believing in justice.


Moderate Hutu

Sendashonga was a moderate Hutu, a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in mid-1995, along with the then Hutu Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers for denouncing “acts of vengeance” by the Rwandan army against civilians. The Judge said that the late Sendashonga had fallen out with the government of Rwanda, that he must have known a lot and was also in contact with diplomats and people opposed to human rights abuses in Rwanda.

“His elimination was imminent,” the Judge added.

He noted that the Rwandan government refused to waive diplomatic immunity for an officer in its embassy in Kenya who was suspected of being involved in the 1996 attempt on Sendashonga’s life. On the theory that the killing could have been in revenge for a business deal turned sour, the Judge said that when Sendashonga died and this theory was raised, the then foreign minister of Rwanda (Anastase Gasana) discounted it, saying Sendashonga was not capable of swindling any one.Justice Mbogoli said that when police officers recorded Kiwanuka’s statement despite those facts, their investigations “took a road into oblivion”. Kathae, he said, was more cautious, but his quest for justice was “frustrated”, as he testified, by the Rwandan government, particularly its refusal to waive diplomatic immunity to facilitate investigations.

“The first accused may have known of the plot, but that does not make him guilty of murder. Each one of them is acquitted and should be freed henceforth,” Justice Mbogoli said.

The case has dragged on since June 1998 with many adjournments. At one point, it had to start afresh with a new judge and a new prosecutor. The prosecution produced 19 witnesses, while the defence failed to bring any, apart from the accused who gave unsworn statements.

Defence lawyer for the accused, John Murethi Waiganjo, told the court that the families of the accused had "broken up under pressure from the investigators", and that "this is not a case anyone wanted to have anything to do with".Lawyer wants fresh investigations, freed accused fears for his life Nairobi lawyer Mary Kasango, who has been sitting in the hearings for the Sendashonga family, urged the court to order fresh investigations into the murder of the former minister. She said afterwards that she would pursue the issue by writing to Kenya’s Attorney-General.

Defence lawyer Waiganjo expressed “delight” that his clients had been acquitted. “The defence is delighted,” he said in court, after the ruling. "However," he added, “I have a rather strange application that my client wants me to make. Kiwanuka prays that the court should place him under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as he fears for his life."

Justice Mbogoli said the court had no jurisdiction and urged Waiganjo to pursue the issue on Kiwanuka’s behalf. Prosecutor Tabitha Wanyama was not immediately available to comment, as she was still in court attending another case. Waiganjo confirmed reports that he had received death threats.

“Yes it is true, I have received some calls,” he said. But he said he feared more for his freed clients, especially Kiwanuka. “They are weary, but very happy with the judgement,” he said. Meanwhile, the accused were in the police cells finalizing formalities before they could leave the Nairobi High Court free men.JC/SW/MBR/FH

SENDASHONGA TRIO "NOT GUILTY", SAY COURT ASSESSORS

Nairobi, May 3rd, 2001 (FH) Three suspects in custody for the murder of former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga are not guilty, court assessors who have been following their case told the Nairobi High Court on Thursday. In a unanimous opinion, the three assessors told Justice Msagha Mbogholi that the state had "failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused (had) committed the offence”. The assessors' verdict is not binding on the judge. Justice Mbogholi will give a final verdict on May 31st. The accused face the death penalty if found guilty.

Sendashonga was shot dead in his car in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998, along with his driver Jean Bosco Nkurubukeye. Kenyan police arrested three suspects shortly afterwards. They are David Akiki Kiwanuka (Rwandan), Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo (both Ugandan).Police said the first accused, Kiwanuka, confessed to masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 54 million US dollars by Sendashonga, and that the other two suspects had confessed to helping plan the murder. However, all three accused have pleaded not guilty.The court assessors said although the state had proved that the cause of Sendashonga and Nkurubukeye's deaths was gunshot wounds, there was no proof that the three accused were at the murder scene.

Assessor Moses Mwangi, reading a summary on behalf of the three, said that according to testimonies in court, "the murder weapon, believed to be an AK-47 rifle, has never been recovered to date". He said the state prosecutor had proved that Kiwanuka recruited the second and third accused and that there was an intention to kill. However, he reminded the court that Kenyan police officer and prosecution witness John Kathae, who investigated the case, said he was "frustrated and unable to extend his investigations”.

Mwangi also noted that the wife of the first deceased {Cyrie Sendashonga} had testified that an attempt had been made on her husband's life in February 1996. "She was of the opinion that it was politically motivated," Mwangi said. "Under the circumstances, due to the state’s failure to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence, we enter a verdict of not guilty on all accused to the charge of murder."


Lengthy Trial

The Sendashonga murder trial has dragged on since June 1998 with many adjournments. In July last year, the case was restarted under a new judge and with a new prosecution team. Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo told the court on January 25th this year that the three were charged because “Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”. Rwanda has denied any involvement in the killing.

“The murderers of Sendashonga and John Bosco are out there and none is before the court today,” Waiganjo said in his closing arguments.The defence counsel recalled that the deceased’s wife {Cyrie Sendashonga} had, in her testimony to the court, said she believed her husband’s murder was purely political. Police officer Kathae, a witness for the prosecution, had agreed with the theory, saying that the first accused’s statement was full of “untruths”, according to Waiganjo.

The prosecution was scheduled to produce 25 witnesses, but 19 testified.The court found the accused had a case to answer, and they were put on their defence on March 28th. Defence was not able to produce witnesses, however. Waiganjo said the families of the accused had "broken up under pressure from the investigators" and that "this is not a case anyone wanted to have anything to do with". The three accused all made unsworn statements to the court in which they presented alibis.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.

Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there, he set up with Twagiramungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali.In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.SW/JC/FH


PROSECUTION CLOSES ITS CASE IN EX-MINISTER'S MURDER TRIAL

Nairobi, April 25th, 2000 (FH) - The key suspect on trial for the murder of former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga sought to hire gangsters to kill him, the prosecution maintained in its closing arguments to the Nairobi High Court on Wednesday.Sendashonga and his driver John Bosco Ndikurubkeye were shot dead in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998. Shortly afterwards three suspects -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christoper Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with murder.Prosecutor Tabitha Wanyama urged the Nairobi court to declare all three men guilty, on the basis of testimony from witnesses, especially police officers who were investigating the case. Kenyan police accuse Kiwanuka of masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 53 million US dollars by Sendashonga. Police claim that the other two suspects confessed to helping Kiwanuka plan the killing, but all three deny committing the murder.

Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo maintains that all three accused are innocent but were charged because “Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”. Rwanda has denied any involvement in the murder.

The three accused have been in remand since their arrest and could face the death penalty if found guilty. Murder is a capital offence in Kenya. The court, presided over by Judge Msagha Mbogholi, will sum up the case on May 3rd, and set a date for the judgement.Plot to hire a killer.

In her closing arguments, prosecutor Wanyama reminded the court that one of the police officers, Michael Ewoi, had testified in February that an informer had warned on May 14th, 1998 of a plot to “hire a killer”. Ewoi said that before Sendashonga was killed, a police informer had given police a tip that “a man wanted to hire a killer”. Prosecution said that the informer led officers to a meeting with Kiwanuka, in Kibera, on the outskirts of Nairobi. Wanyama said that Kiwanuka, the first accused, wanted Sendashonga killed “urgently” and had earlier taken the other two suspects "to show them his [Sendashonga’s] residence, his place of work and a restaurant he frequented”.

Prosecution maintained that Kiwanuka was ready to offer a weapon and money to the officers who were following a tip by an informer and who posed as hit-men ready to hire. He allegedly offered 100,000 Kenyan shillings for the job, although officers who testified denied having received any money. The officers were to meet Kiwanuka again, on May15th, to proceed with “the plan” but Kiwanuka did not show up, the court heard. “May 15th and May 16th are too close to imagine that someone else planned the Sendashonga killing,” Wanyama told the court. She said that although the three suspects had pleaded not guilty, they had not disassociated themselves from the murder plan and that their actions between May 14th and 19th, 1998, were suspect.The defence closed its case on March 28th, without bringing any witnesses. All three accused presented alibis in unsworn statements to the court. Wamuthoni's wife had been expected to testify but did not turn up at the lawyer's office.

Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo said that it had been impossible to trace other witnesses. He told Hirondelle that the families of the accused had "broken up under pressure from the investigators" and that "this is not a case anyone wanted to have anything to do with".Waiganjo argued that the three should be acquitted, as the state did not have enough evidence to warrant a conviction. He pointed out that there was no material evidence and that the testimonies of police officers were full of contradictions.The case has dragged on since June 1998 with many adjournments. At one point, it had to start afresh with a new judge and a new prosecutor.

In December 2000, Sendashonga’s widow testified as a civil party, saying that the current Rwandan government of President Paul Kagame had been responsible for her husband’s death. During cross-questioning in the Nairobi court, she also named a Rwandan embassy official known as Alphonse Mbayire as one of the people involved. Mbayire was killed in Kigali in February by unidentified gunmen.Prosecution witness John Kathae, a Kenyan police officer with the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) who was formerly in charge of the case, told the court under cross-questioning that he had not found Kiwanuka’s story credible, and that he believed the murder was political. Kathae told the court that Mbayire used to visit Kiwanuka regularly and was sponsoring his family. Police officer Kathae said he had wished to interrogate Mbayire but his attempts were frustrated.Sendashonga was a moderate Hutu, a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in mid-1995, along with the then Hutu Prime Minister Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers for denouncing “acts of vengeance” by the Rwandan army against civilians.

SW/JC/MBR/FH APRIL 5th, 2001

PROSECUTION DELAY IN SENDASHONGA CASE DISAPPOINTS COURT

Nairobi, April 4th, 2001 (FH) - The hearing of the case against three suspects charged with murdering former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga was Thursday adjourned to April 25th before Nairobi High Court, because the prosecution was not ready to make final submissions, reports the independent news agency Hirondelle. Justice Msagha Mbogholi said that the request for an adjournment was “very unfortunate”, and that if the case had not been at a crucial stage he would have rejected it. “I will very reluctantly grant the application for the 25th,” Justice Mbogholi added.

Sendashonga and his driver John-Bosco Nkurubukeye were shot dead in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th 1998. The three accused -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with the murder shortly afterwards. Kenyan police say Kiwanuka masterminded the killing in a move to avenge a business deal turned sour between the late minister and Kiwanuka's father. The other two suspects allegedly “confessed” to the police that they helped Kiwanuka plan the killing, but all three have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutor Elizabeth Wanyama told the court that she had taken over from another counsel who was abruptly transferred and therefore needed more time to prepare. But defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo opposed the request, reminding the court that at the last session on March 28th, the prosecution had said it would be ready. A prosecution representative said at that time that the submissions would take about 20 minutes.

“That statement implied that they had facts and were ready to proceed,” he told the court. He said the accused had now been in remand for nearly three years and that “they are worn out, in a state of helplessness, and their only hope is pegged on the conclusion of this case”.

During the last hearing, the defence failed to produce any witnesses. The three accused gave short testimonies in unsworn statements whereby the prosecution could not cross-examine them. Waiganjo stated that the families of the suspects had been distressed by the arrests, evicted by their landlords and some harassed by police. The wife of the first accused has fled and he does not know her fate, according to Waiganjo.

“These are people who are now living in anxiety, uncertainty and who do not know where they will go from here,” defence counsel told the court on Thursday.

Waiganjo argued that the three should be acquitted, as the state did not have enough evidence to warrant a conviction. He pointed out that there was no material evidence and that the testimonies of police officers were full of contradictions. The state brought sixteen witnesses in the case. He also told the court earlier that the three were innocent, but were charged because "Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”. Rwanda has denied any involvement. Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population. Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagiramungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country. JC/SW/FH


DEFENCE FAILS TO BRING WITNESSES IN SENDASHONGA MURDER CASE

Nairobi, March 28th, 2001 (FH) - The defence for three men accused of murdering former Rwandan minister Seth Sendashonga on Wednesday closed its case before the Nairobi High Court without bringing any witnesses. The three accused all submitted alibis to the court in unsworn statements.

Sendashonga and his driver John-Bosco Nkurubukeye were shot dead in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998. The three suspects -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with murder shortly afterwards. The first accused is Rwandan while the other two are Ugandan.Kenyan police accuse Kiwanuka of masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 53 million US dollars by Sendashonga. Police claim that the other two suspects confessed to helping Kiwanuka plan the killing, but all three deny committing the murder. In November 1998, a lower court acquitted Kiwanuka of three out of five charges against him, including conspiracy to murder.

"On the date in question, May 16th, 1998, I was fully committed in my residence to work of repairing some mechanics, and I never moved out at all," the first accused Kiwanuka told the court. He said he had "given a reference" for his family, a housekeeper and the mechanics he was working with to appear before the court and support his alibi, but that after his arrest "they [Kenyan police] frustrated my family by harassing them and went as far as holding my wife for three good days, demanding lump sums of money for her release". Kiwanuka said that his wife had been forced to "flee the country and join my mother" in western Tanzania.

The second accused, Wamuthoni, told the court that he was "travelling from Mombasa" on the day of the murder, that he was arrested on May 19th (three days later) and was asked if he knew Kiwanuka but "I told them I did not". "I was not involved in the murder of Sendashonga and Bosco," he told the court.

Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo told Hirondelle that it had been impossible to trace other witnesses. He said the families of the accused had "broken up under pressure from the investigators" and that "this is not a case anyone wanted to have anything to do with".

Asked why the accused had elected to give unsworn statements, rather than sworn statements from the box, he said it had been their choice. Under Kenyan law, the accused had three options: to give a sworn statement and face cross-questioning afterwards; to make an unsworn statement, in which case they would not face cross-questioning; or to say nothing.Waiganjo told the court that he would not make any further submissions, except to restate his argument that "these three were not involved. The actual murderers are still out there, roaming dangerously".

In his submissions last month, Waiganjo argued that the three should be acquitted, as the state did not have enough evidence to warrant a conviction. He pointed out that there was no material evidence and that the testimonies of police officers were full of contradictions. The state brought sixteen witnesses in the case. The defence counsel also told the court earlier that the three were innocent, but were charged because "Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political". Rwanda has denied any involvement.

Justice Msagha Mbogholi adjourned the case to April 5th, when the prosecution will make final submissions. Seth Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagiramungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.JC/PHD/FH


SENDASHONGA MURDER TRIAL ADJOURNED FOR DEFENCE TO BRING WITNESS

Nairobi, March 22nd, 2001 (FH) - The trial of three suspects accused of murdering former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga was adjourned by a Nairobi court on Thursday, to allow the defence to produce one witness willing to testify. Sendashonga and his driver John-Bosco Nkurubukeye were shot dead in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998. The three suspects -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with murder shortly afterwards.

Kenyan police accuse Kiwanuka of masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 53 million US dollars by Sendashonga. Police claim that the other two suspects confessed to helping Kiwanuka plan the killing, but all three deny committing the murder.Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo appealed to Justice Mbogholi Msagha at the Nairobi High court to "give a chance to that one witness" who is willing to testify. The lone witness is to appear for the third accused, but did not come in time for the hearing scheduled Thursday. The defence lawyer said there were no witnesses available to testify for the first and second accused.

Waiganjo said that defence had difficulties producing witnesses and that the obvious ones, such as the suspects' wives, could not be traced. "After the three were arrested and remanded, their homes were left in distress," Waiganjo said.

He added that family members had moved to unknown places of abode.The testimony of the lone witness will be followed by that of the three accused, and the defence will then close its case. Justice Mbogholi set a new date of March 28th for the next hearing. The three face the death penalty if convicted. Sixteen witnesses testified for the prosecution.

In his submissions last month, Waiganjo argued that the three should be acquitted, as the state did not have sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. He earlier told the court that the three were innocent, but were charged because "Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political". Rwanda has denied any involvement.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagiramungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. Shortly before his death, Sendashonga had been expected to testify before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness for the defence.

In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.JC/SW/PHD/FH


COURT SAYS FORMER RWANDAN MINISTER’S MURDER SUSPECTS HAVE A CASE TO ANSWER

Nairobi, March 6th, 2001 (FH) Three suspects charged with the murder of former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga have a case to answer, a Nairobi court said on Tuesday. Justice Msagha Mbogholi ruled that the case would continue on March 22nd, when the defence are expected to bring witnesses.

Sendashonga and his driver John Bosco Nkurubukeye were shot dead in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998, in what some observers believe was a political killing. The Rwandan government has denied any involvement in the murder.The three accused -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with murder shortly after the killing. Kenyan police accuse Kiwanuka of masterminding the murder to avenge his father whom Sendashonga allegedly swindled of some 53 million US dollars. Police claim that the other two suspects confessed to helping Kiwanuka plan the killing, but all three deny committing the murder.

The case against the trio restarted afresh in July last year under a new judge, Justice Mbogholi, and a new prosecution team, after frequent previous adjournments. The judge is assisted by three court assessors.Prosecution had originally lined up 25 witnesses, but 16 actually testified. Under the Kenyan system, defence does not call witnesses in a murder case unless the court finds that the defence has a case to answer. Had it found otherwise, the accused would have been acquitted.

Defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo said he was "shocked" by the court’s decision. “I expected at least the second and third accused to be acquitted,” he said.

In his submissions last month, Waiganjo argued that the three should be acquitted, as the state did not have sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. He earlier told the court the three were innocent, but were charged because "Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political".

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagarimungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. Shortly before his death, Sendashonga had been expected to testify before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness for the defence.In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.JC/PHD/FH


DEFENCE SAYS SENDASHONGA’S REAL KILLERS NOT IN COURT

Nairobi, February 12th, 2001 (FH) Defence counsel for three suspects charged with murdering former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga told a Nairobi court on Monday that his clients should be acquitted, and that the real killers were not in court.

“The state has failed to make a case against the three and their evidence hopelessly falls below the standards required in criminal justice,” lawyer John Mureithi Waiganjo said during his closing arguments.Sendashonga was shot dead in his car in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998, along with his driver Jean Bosco Nkurubukeye. Kenyan police arrested three suspects shortly afterwards. They said the first accused, David Akiki Kiwanuka, confessed to masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was allegedly swindled of some 54 million US dollars by Sendashonga, and that the other two suspects had confessed to helping plan the murder. However, all three accused have pleaded not guilty.

Defence counsel Waiganjo told the court on January 25th this year that the three were charged because “Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”. Rwanda has denied any involvement in the killing.

“The murderers of Sendashonga and John Bosco are out there and none is before the court today,” Waiganjo said in his closing arguments.The defence counsel recalled that the deceased’s wife Cyrie Sendashonga had, in her testimony to the court, said she believed her husband’s murder was purely political. Police officer John Kathae, a witness for the prosecution, had agreed with the theory, saying that the first accused’s statement was full of “untruths”, Waiganjo continued.


Circumstantial evidence

Waiganjo told the court that the police investigations were “not exhausted” and that the evidence adduced was largely circumstantial. He said the testimony of police officers who appeared as prosecution witnesses was “contradictory”. The defence maintains that police were negligent, as the officer handling the case had 14 years’ standing and “had prior knowledge” that the deceased was in danger. Defence also said evidence by police officer Daniel Seroney was contradicted by officer Michael Ewoi, and also by the police informer called Ali. Seroney said he was the first to be told by Ali that a man was “looking for a killer to hire”. However, Ali had said he first reported to an “officer Amina”. Officer Ewoi testified that he and officer Ezekiel Opur called Seroney on learning of the shooting on May 16th, while Seroney said he called the officers himself. Waiganjo said these and other contradictions made the police evidence “vulnerable, unreliable, explicitly suspect and dangerous to go by”.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagarimungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. Shortly before his death, Sendashonga had been expected to testify before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness for the defence.

In 1996, he survived an attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.


Assessors’ submissions on March 6th

The prosecution declined to make a separate closing argument, saying that: “The public will rely entirely on the evidence submitted before this court. That is all.” Prosecution had originally lined up 25 witnesses, but 16 actually testified.Under the Kenyan system, defence does not call witnesses in a murder case unless the three court assessors rule that the defence has a case to answer. Justice Msagha Mbogholi said that the court assessors should sum up the case on March 6th. The court will then set a date for the final judgement.

Meanwhile, news reports said senior Rwandan military official Alphonse Mbayire, one of the people suspected of involvement in Sendashonga’s murder, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the Rwandan capital Kigali last Wednesday. Mbayire was a high-ranking military officer in the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). Until recently, he served at the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi, reportedly as an intelligence officer. Mbayire’s name had recently come up several times in the Nairobi murder trial of Sendashonga. In December, Sendashonga’s widow Cyrie told the court that Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government was responsible for her husband’s death, and named embassy official Mbayire as one of the people involved in the assassination.On January 25th, Kenyan police officer John Kathae, formerly in charge of investigating the Sendashonga murder, said that he had wanted to interrogate Mbayire, after the chief suspect’s wife told him Mbayire was visiting the family regularly. “I wrote to higher authorities requesting diplomatic immunity to be waived so that we could interrogate him, but the authorities did not respond," prosecution witness Kathae said under cross-questioning.JC/SW/MBR/FH


POLICE POSED AS HIT-MEN TO “TRAP KILLER”, SAYS WITNESS

Nairobi, February 1st, 2001 (FH) - The last prosecution witness in the murder case of slain former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga told a Nairobi court on Thursday that he was assigned by officer Daniel Seroney of Kenya’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to follow a tip by an informer that "a man wanted to hire a killer".The officer, Michael Ewoi, told the court that he was a member of Kenya’s notorious Alfa Romeo “flying squad” [rapid response team to armed robbery now disbanded], but declined to answer some questions from the defence regarding his duties in Alpha Romeo. He also gave contradictory evidence about his precise whereabouts on the day of the murder.

According to Ewoi, Seroney assigned him to the task on May 14th, 1998, two days before Sendashonga and his driver were shot dead in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb. Officer Seroney had testified on December 19th last year, that officers were warned on May 14th, 1998 of "a plot to hire a killer". after the killing, three suspects -- David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo -- were arrested and charged with murder. Kenyan police say the first accused confessed to masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was swindled of some 54 million US dollars by Sendashonga. Police claim that the other two suspects had also confessed to helping plan the killing, but said they never had a chance to carry it out.However, all three accused have pleaded not-guilty.

Their defence counsel, John Mureithi Waiganjo, claimed at a hearing on January 25th this year that the three were innocent, but were charged because “Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”. Ewoi told the court he saw the police informer called Ali in Seroney's office in May 1998. Seroney then deployed him (Ewoi) to go with the informer under the guise of a willing hit-man to meet the would be killer, Ewoi told the court. He said that the person who wanted to hire a killer was the first accused, Kiwanuka. The officer added that Ali, the informer, took him and officer Ezekiel Opur in his car (on May 14th) and parked in a petrol station in Kibera (on the outskirts of Nairobi). Officer Ewoi said the informer brought Kiwanuka to the car and "we talked for about 30 minutes".

Ewoi said he did not know the name of the first accused (Kiwanuka) “but recognized his face”. Asked what they spoke about in the car, Ewoi replied that the first accused told him he wanted to kill "someone". Ewoi said the accused (Kiwanuka) did not tell him the name of the man but gave him a registration number UNEP108CDK .The witness said that he and officer Opur told the accused they would "do the work but had no weapon". He added that the accused said he would provide them with a gun from Uganda and that they would meet on May 15th. However, Officer Ewoi said the accused did not meet him as agreed. On the 16th, he told the court, he heard that someone had been shot dead on Forest Road, and on hearing the registration number of the slain driver, he "realised it was the one we had been given by the first accused".


Contradictions

On cross examination, officer Ewoi said that he did not know when Sendashonga was shot. He also said that he did not recall exactly where he was on that day. When questioned further by the defence, he said that he was between Athi River and Ngong. But he later said that he was in Kibera. On re-examination by the prosecutor, however, he said he was at a place called Mlonlongo "going for lunch".

It was at about 5 pm, Ewoi said, that he heard on the radio that someone had been shot dead on Forest Road. Earlier, Ewoi told the court that Seroney said that they must go to see Ali and that Ali pointed out Kiwanuka's house. But during cross-questioning, he said he did not know the accused's house. He also denied receiving any money from Kiwanuka although he said the accused had pledged 100,000 Kenyan shillings for the job. He made no mention of the second and third accused. In his testimony in December, Seroney said that police officers camped at Kiwanuka's house waiting for him to emerge, only to hear of the killing two days after they had been contacted by the informer.

Closing arguments start February 12th Ewoi’s testimony marked the closure of the state’s case. Justice Mbogholi granted a week for prosecution to prepare final submissions. Both parties are expected to present their closing arguments on February 12th. The prosecution is expected to argue that the murder was in revenge for a business deal turned sour, while the defence is expected to say that the three accused were used as a cover-up for a political assassination by the current Rwandan government. Rwanda has denied any involvement in the killing.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagarimungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. Shortly before his death, Sendashonga had been expected to testify before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness for the defence. According to lawyers who had held preliminary talks with him, he was prepared to testify, among other things, on the "manipulation" of prosecution witnesses brought before the Tribunal. SW/JC/MBR/FH


MURDER TRIAL OF EX-RWANDAN MINISTER GOES INTO FINAL STAGE
Arusha, January 31st, 2001 (FH) The murder trial of former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga is expected to resume on Thursday before a Nairobi High Court, with the testimonies of two last prosecution witnesses, followed by the closing arguments of the two parties. The prosecution is expected to argue that the murder was in revenge for a business deal turned sour, while the defence is expected to say that the three accused were used as a cover-up for a political assassination by the current Rwandan government. Rwanda has denied any involvement in the killing.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995, along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by the Rwandan army against the civilian population.

Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi. From there he set up with Twagarimungu (who fled to Belgium) a pressure group against the government in Kigali. Shortly before his death, Sendashonga had been expected to testify before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness for the defence. According to lawyers who had held preliminary talks with him, he was prepared to testify, among other things, on the "manipulation" of prosecution witnesses brought before the Tribunal.The former minister was shot dead in his car in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb on May 16th, 1998, along with his driver. In 1996, he had survived a similar attempt on his life, also in Nairobi, and a diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi was arrested near the scene of the crime carrying the weapon used in the attack. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Rwanda were temporarily suspended and the diplomat was expelled from the country.

Kenyan police arrested three suspects shortly after the assassination. They said the first accused confessed to masterminding the murder to avenge his father who was swindled of some 54 million US dollars by Sendashonga. Police claimed that the other two suspects had also confessed to helping plan the killing but said they never had a chance to carry it out. However, all three accused have pleaded not-guilty. Their defence counsel John Mureithi Waiganjo claimed at a hearing on January 25th this year that the three were innocent, but were charged because “Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security, and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political”.

Waiganjo was speaking during cross-questioning of prosecution witness John Kathae, a Kenyan police officer with the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) who was formerly in charge of the case. Under cross-questioning, Kathae admitted that when interrogating the first accused David Akiki Kiwanuka, he had not found Kiwanuka’s story credible, and that he believed the murder was political.Kathae told the court that during his investigations, he also interrogated Kiwanuka’s wife, who said that a Rwandan embassy official named Alphonse Mbayire was sponsoring their family and that the official used to visit Kiwanuka regularly. Kathae wished to interrogate Mbayire and asked for provisions to be made for such an investigation. “ I wrote to higher authorities requesting diplomatic immunity to be waived so that we could interrogate him, but the authorities did not respond," Kathae said.

The case has dragged on since June 1998 with many adjournments. At one point, it had to start afresh with a new judge and a new prosecutor. In December 2000, Sendashonga’s widow testified as a civil party, saying that the current Rwandan government of President Paul Kagame had been responsible for her husband’s death. During cross-questioning in the Nairobi court, she also named a Rwandan embassy official known as Alphonse Mbayire as one of the people involved.The counsel representing Mrs Sendashonga and her family, Mary Kasango, had earlier stated that witnesses, including the widow, feared to testify, as their lives were under threat. But in an interview in Canada, Mrs Sendashonga said that she had decided to speak out because: "I will not let them kill Sendashonga a second time. First they murdered him and now they want to kill his name by calling him a thief. I will not allow it."

Mrs Sendashonga said that her husband met the then General Kagame [now president of Rwanda] through RPF, and that their relationship was cordial until Sendashonga started questioning the activities of the army. She further said that whilst still a minister in the Rwandan government, Sendashonga had been threatened for his continued reports on "atrocities committed by the Rwandan army”.

Mrs Sendashonga told the Nairobi court that as minister, Sendashonga wrote about 760 letters to the then Defence Minister Kagame, detailing crimes committed by the army. Asked whether she had copies of these letters, she said that she had surrendered them to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).JC/MBR/FH


INVESTIGATIONS INTO RWANDA MINISTER’S MURDER "FRUSTRATED"

Nairobi January 25th, 2001 (FH) - Investigations to identify the killers of slain former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga were "frustrated", a police officer told a Nairobi High Court on Thursday.Sendashonga was shot dead on May 16th, 1998, together with his driver, in broad daylight in a Nairobi suburb. Three suspects, David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias "Wamuthoni", and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo were charged shortly afterwards with his murder and have been in remand.Police officer John Kithae of the Criminal Investigations Departments (CID) admitted during cross-examination by defence lawyer John Mureithi Waiganjo that investigations into the killing of the former minister were "frustrated".

Kithae said that the three suspects were "handed over" to him by another officer, Daniel Seroney (CID), for interrogation, following which he [Kithae] started investigating the case. Seroney testified before the same court on December 19th.According to Kithae, the first accused Kiwanuka admitted on interrogation that he planned Sendashonga’s murder because Sendashonga, whilst a minister in Rwanda, had swindled the accused’s father out of some 50 million US dollars. However, Kithae also told the court that he believed the killing was "political" because efforts to follow up were "frustrated by the Rwandan government". He added that he wrote to "higher authorities, particularly regarding an attack in 1996 against Sendashonga by someone from the Rwandan Embassy" but got no reply. "They refused to waive his diplomatic immunity", Kithae said.

Asked if he carried out investigations beyond the Kenyan border, or if he attempted to talk to the suspected official from the Rwandan embassy, officer Kithae answered that "we have no powers". Kithae said that Kiwanuka admitted hiring the other two suspects to help him in his plot to kill Sendashonga. But all the three deny actually carrying out the plan. He also told the court that during his investigations he interrogated Kiwanuka’s wife, who said that a certain "Alphonse" from the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi had been sponsoring the family.

Kithae told the court that Seroney had information about the second and third suspects "prior to the incident" and had deployed officers to follow up the issue. During cross-examination, Kithae said that he did not believe in Kiwanuka’s recorded statement because the first accused appeared "too intelligent". The officer added that the weapon (a pistol produced in court as an exhibit) surrendered by the suspects was another "plot" by the first accused to "lead the investigators to a false trail". Ballistic experts who testified in court in December said that the pistol was not the murder weapon.

Kithae also told the court that his efforts to identify the owners of the motor vehicle used by Sendashonga’s assailants and abandoned at the murder scene were also "negative". There was no response from the registrar of motor vehicles and "importation documents of the vehicle were missing", he said. "Another frustration?", asked counsel Waiganjo. "It is true," Kithae replied.

The police officer also added that DNA samples of hair from a comb found in the assailants’ vehicle did not match with that of any of the accused. "If you did not believe the first accused’s recorded statement, the other two are "decoys", the weapon recovered from them is not the murder weapon, they have not confessed to the killing, then why are they here?" Waiganjo asked.

It is upon this honourable court to decide their fate," Kithae replied.

Waiganjo maintained that the three were innocent, but were charged because "Sendashonga’s killing was an embarrassment to the lapse by [Kenyan] government security and the Rwandan government frustrated investigations because the killing was political".

Prosecutor Rose Mukungu asked the court for an adjournment, saying there were two more witnesses, who could not make it to court. Waiganjo objected on grounds that the accused had been in remand for a long time, and that the state should close its case if its witnesses were not available.Justice Mbogholi granted what he said would be the last adjournment. He said the hearing would continue on February 1st. SW/JC/PHD/FH


DEFENCE ATTACKS POLICE VERSION OF RWANDAN MINISTER'S MURDER

Nairobi, December 19th, 2000 (FH) - The hearing of the murder case of slainformer Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga continued Tuesday, with aKenyan police investigator testifying that the three alleged killers“confessed” to the crime. But defence counsel for the accused attacked the police version, only a dayafter Sendashonga's widow told the court it was a political crime.

Officer Daniel Seroney of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) saidthat an "informer” had told him on May 14th, 1998, "that there was a plot to hire a killer". That was two days before the former minister was shot dead in broad daylight.

Defence counsel for the three accused, John Mureithi Waiganjo, asked why Seroney had not in that case alerted the former minister to the danger.

“Why did you not inform Sendashonga that his life was in danger?" Waiganjo asked. "I put it to you that your slowness and negligence cost Mr Sendashonga his life."

The late Sendashonga was shot in Nairobi on May 16th, 1998 along with a bodyguard. There had been a similar attempt on his life in February 1996. Three suspects, David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni andChristopher Lubanga Mulondo were arrested shortly after the killing and charged with murder. Kenyan police maintain that confessions from the accused point to a Mafia-style vengeance killing over money, but many observers believe the murder was political and that there was a cover-up. The three suspects have pleaded not guilty. Their defence counsel maintains that they were forced to accept "written" statements to avoid police torture.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995 along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagarimungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by RPF soldiers against the civilian population. Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi.

On Monday, Sendashonga's widow testified before Justice Msagha Mbogholi atthe Nairobi High Court when the case resumed. She stressed that her husband's murder was political and added that she wanted the caseinvestigated so the true killers could be identified. Mrs. Sendashonga accused the current Rwandan government of being behind the murder. She was testifying as a civil party.


Contradictions

Seroney told the court that police officers kept watch on Kiwanuka’s houseafter the “warning” by the “informer”, who said Kiwanuka was looking forgangsters to help with the killing. But defence counsel Waiganjo claimed there were serious contradictions between the officer’s written statement and what he said in court. The CID officer denied any pressure on the suspects, but told the court they all confessed quickly. He said they were interrogated separately and then together.

“After about 15 minutes, the suspects, all Ugandans confessed,” he said.

Kiwanuka has previously been described as a Rwandan. According to Seroney, Kiwanuka confessed to financing the killing and hiringthe other two suspects to avenge his father who was involved in swindlingmoney from the Rwandan state. Sendashonga, according to Kiwanuka's reported confession, stopped this corrupt money deal because he wanted to keep the funds for himself. Police said the deal involved embezzlement of some 54million US dollars in 1995.

Serony insisted that his account of events was true and that he had taken Kiwanuka to the head of the CID Noah a trap Too “because it was a sensitive information (sic) and I wanted him (Too) to hear what the suspect was saying”.

The defence counsel, however, said there were contradictions between Seroney's references to “written” statements by the suspects, and thesuspects' own account of their confession. He also noted that the gun police recovered is not the murder weapon and that they have never recovered the murder weapon. The case will resume on January 8th.


SLAIN MINISTER’S DEATH WAS ‘POLITICAL’, SAYS HIS WIDOW

Nairobi, December 18th, 2000 (FH) - Slain former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga was killed for political reasons and not because of a sour business deal as has been claimed, his widow Cyrie Sendashoga told a Nairobi Court on Monday.

The former minister was shot dead in his car in broad daylight in Nairobi on May 16th, 1998, along with his bodyguard.Mrs Sendashonga was categorical that the current Rwandan government had had a hand in her husband's death, saying there had been a previous attempt on his life in 1996 and that the Rwandan Embassy had refused to waive immunity on one of its officials who was implicated. She said after that, some reports in Rwanda claimed that the attempt to kill her husband was linked to diamonds “even though police in Kenya had arrested this person with a gun"."

In other words," defence counsel for the three accused John Mureithi Waiganjo asked Mrs Sendashonga, "the Kagame [Rwandan President] government is responsible for the death of your husband Seth Sendashonga?” "Yes,” she replied.

Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a member of the political bureau of the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which won the 1994 civil war in Rwanda, ending the genocide and taking power in July that year. He was Interior Minister in the first government formed by the RPF, but was forced to resign in summer 1995 along with the Hutu Prime Minister of the day Faustin Twagiramungu and two other ministers, for denouncing "acts of vengeance" by RPF soldiers against the civilian population. Sendashonga fled into exile in Nairobi.

Vengeance theory refuted Mrs Sendashonga was testifying before Justice Msagha Mbogholi at the Nairobi High Court when the case resumed. Kenyan police arrested the three suspects shortly after the killing. They said one of them, David Akiki Kiwanuka, had confessed to the murder to avenge his father who was involved in swindling money from the Rwandan state. Sendashonga, according to Kiwanuka's reported confession, stopped this corrupt money deal because he wanted to keep the funds for himself. Police said the deal involved embezzlement of some 54 million US dollars in 1995.

But his widow refuted this theory. “For me and the rest of the family we believe that this was a political and not a business matter, particularly when we recall the event in 1996,” Cyrie Sendashonga told the court. She said that when Kenyan police investigating the case approached her just after the murder, they said they were following three leads: political, robbery or business motives. "Clearly this story of 54 million was just a fabrication," she told the court. "I don’t know for what motives, but it is not true."

In her testimony, Mrs Sendashonga said that before he was killed, her husband had been due to testify before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He was expected to appear as an expert witness for the defence and, according to lawyers who spoke to him, was prepared to talk about the "manipulation" of prosecution witnesses.

Mrs. Sendashonga also told the court that her husband was to be interviewed by a French parliamentary inquiry into France's 1990-94 role in Rwanda, including the Operation Turquoise (humanitarian/military intervention from June to August that year). She said that the Rwandan government was uncomfortable about this and a report had been aired that the French parliamentarians were “interviewing the wrong people --whatever that meant”.

The suspects Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji alias Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo have all pleaded not guilty. Kiwanuka was originally said to be Rwandan, but defence counsel now says all three are Ugandans. Kenyan police say Muhanji and Mulondo presented Kiwanuka as the "mastermind", that they plotted to kill Sendashonga but that he was killed before they got thechance. Defence counsel maintains that the accused are not guilty, and that they failed to dispute their "written" statements only to avoid torture.

Counsel Mary Kasango representing Mrs Sendashonga and family told Hirondelle that the case had to start afresh in July this year because previous hearings were frequently adjourned. The case is now being heard by a different judge and has a new prosecution team. The murder trial began inJune 1999 but by the end of the year the then state prosecutor said he needed more time to convene witnesses.The court adjourned until tomorrow morning because two prosecution witnesses had not arrived. Prosecutor Rose Mukungu said she had a total of 17 witness, 14 of whom had testified.

ASSASSINATED RWANDAN HAD AGREED TO TESTIFY IN DEFENCE OF ACCUSED AT WARCRIMES TRIALS

Arusha, 18 May 1998 (FH) - The former Rwandan cabinet minister gunned down in Nairobi two days ago had agreed to testify in defence of two accused at the Rwandan war crimes tribunal, has learnt the Hirondelle Press Agency at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday.Seth Sendashonga, a former Minister of the Interior in the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) government which came to power in the wake of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, was shot in Nairobi on Saturday.

Defence counsel for former Rwandan businessman Obed Ruzindana told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Sendashonga had already signed a paper confirming his intention to testify in defence of Ruzindana and his co-accused, the former Prefet of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema.Defence lawyer Pascal Besnier said that the testimony was to have been given "openly in public" and that the only conditions Sendashonga had put on his testimony was that notice of his intention to appear court be publicised "as late as possible".

Mr Besnier pointed out that Sendashonga was the first former member of the post genocide RPF government to offer to testify at the ICTR, and explained that his willingness to testify was because "he objected to the treatment of those suspected of genocide, and to the manipulation of certain witnesses for the prosecution".

Expressing his "horror" at the killing, Mr Besnier also confirmed that Sendashonga had "never solicited" protection from the ICTR, and went on to emphasise the need for the "absolute protection of witnesses on both sides". Sendashonga escaped a previous assassination attempt in Nairobi in February1996.An assistant to ICTR Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Muna in Kigali, Maxwell Nkole, Monday said "I do not see that this incident should affect the course of the Tribunal" adding that "good co-operation with the Kigali government should continue as before".

BACKGROUND TO AN ASSASSINATION : LAWYER CLAIMS MURDERED WITNESS WOULD HAVE INDICATED COLLUSION BETWEEN WAR CRIMES COURT AND RWANDAN AUTHORITIES

Arusha, 18 May 1998 (FH) - A defence lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) claims that an assassinated witness would have testified to collusion between the ICTR and Rwandan authorities.

"Witnesses have been taken to ICTR detectives by Rwandan authorities", Mr Besnier said Monday to the independant Hirondelle press agancy.

Pascal Besnier, defending former Rwandan businessman Obed Ruzindana, was commenting on the assassination of former Rwandan Interior minister Seth Sendashonga in Nairobi at the weekend. Earlier, in court, Mr Besnier had revealed that Sendashonga had agreed to testify as an expert witness in the joint trial for genocide and crimes against humanity Ruzindana and former Prefet of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema.

Replying to questions about the likely importance of Sendashonga's testimony, Mr Besnier said "Sincerely, he was one of my main witnesses, not only for Obed Ruzindana, but also for Kayishema. [...] We would have asked Seth Sendashonga about the conditions under which ICTR investigators forthe Prosecution had managed to get hold of their witnesses."

He went on to say that Sendashonga's testimony had been expected to go along the same lines as that of an earlier witness at the ICTR, Rwandese human rights activist Joseph Matata. Matata, testifying in defence of another accused at the ICTR earlier this year, denounced the so called "Syndicates of Informers" [Syndicats de délateurs] in Rwanda, which he suggested were responsible for setting up witnesses for the prosecution.

Besnier explained that "due to his [Sendashonga's] former position in a Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) government, and the extent of his authority, his testimony would have been more precise and carried more weight" [than Matata's]. He added, however, that he did not know how Sendashonga would have proved his claims.

According to Besnier, he and the defence lawyer for Kayishema, Andre Ferran, spoke to Sendashonga eight days before his murder, at which time he told them that while he "did not want specifically to testify for Obed Ruzindana and Clement Kayishema", whom he did not know personally, he did want to call into question the "jurisdiction of the Rwandese authorities and the credibility of those witnesses appearing for the Prosecution".

Sendashonga was Minister of the Interior in the RPF government which came to power in the wake of the genocide in July 1994. He was forced to resign in August 1995 for his criticism of an increase in so called "acts of vengeance" by RPF soldiers against Hutu civilians. Comment is being sought from the Rwandan Ministry of Justice. Cabinet director Gérald Gahima is said to be out until 15h.00 GMT.

 

Human Rights Watch and the FIDH Condemn Assassination of Seth Sendashonga
http://www.hrw.org/news/1998/05/18/human-rights-watch-and-fidh-condemn-assassination-seth-sendashonga
May 19, 1998

Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) deplore the assassination on May 16 in Nairobi of the outstanding Rwandan political leader Seth Sendashonga.

A man of principle and courage, Sendashonga was widely hailed as a leader of moderation. A second person, an unidentified driver, was slain at the same time.

Leader of a student movement opposed to Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, Sendashonga left Rwanda in 1975. Sendashonga, a Hutu, was recruited by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to serve as its liaison with the predominantly Hutu political parties within Rwanda that were opposed to the Habyarimana regime. When the RPF established a government in July 1994, Sendashonga became Minister of the Interior, putting his considerable prestige at the service of the coalition government and so attracting many other moderate Hutu to its support.

Just over a year later, he left the government to protest abuses by the Tutsi-dominated army against civilians, most of them Hutu. He had asked the Rwandan Vice-President and Minister of Defense General Paul Kagame repeatedly to restrain his troops, noting their abuses in some 600 memoranda addressed to Kagame. Several months after leaving government, Sendashonga fled Rwanda for exile in Nairobi.

Sendashonga also firmly condemned the 1994 genocide in which Hutu extremists killed more than half a million Tutsi. In the intervening years, he refused to support the current insurgency against the Rwandan government because it was led by soldiers responsible for the genocide.

A first attempt at assassinating Sendashonga failed in February 1996, although both he and a nephew were wounded in the attack. A man apprehended with a firearm at the site of the attack was identified as an employee of the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi. Although arrested, the assailant was never prosecuted by Kenyan authorities.

Human Rights Watch and FIDH call upon Kenyan authorities to investigate this assassination promptly and thoroughly and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The two international human rights organizations also urge the rest of the international community to insist that the assassin or assassins be brought to justice and to offer their assistance to the Kenyan government in this effort.


Rwandan exiles alarmed at Nairobi murder


Rwandan exiles have expressed alarm at the killing of the exiled former Interior Minister, Seth Sendashonga, in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

A former prime minister, Faustin Twagiramungu, who is in exile in Belgium, accused the Rwandan authorities of responsibility for the murder.

But the Rwandan foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday denying any responsibility for the killing, saying the matter was one for the Kenyan authorities.

Mr Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu, was a leading critic of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan government that took power after the genocide of 1994, which saw around one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed.

He was reportedly due to appear as a defence witness at the UN war crimes tribunal on genocide in Arusha.

While violent robberies are relatively common in Nairobi, the Kenyan police believe that the motive for the attack on Mr Sendashonga was murder.

They say they have formed a special task force to investigate the killing.

Violent death
 
Local reports say that the former minister, Seth Sendashonga, died at the scene of the shooting.

Police believe that more than two attackers were involved and say they have recovered bullet cases of the type used in AK-47 assault rifles.

Mr Sendashonga went into exile in 1995 after concerns were raised about attacks on Hutu civilians by the military.

He was wounded during an assassination attempt in Nairobi the following year.

At the time, he said he believed the gunmen were Rwandan soldiers and that his former government colleagues had ordered his murder.

A Rwandan diplomat was arrested at the scene but the authorities in Kigali refused to lift his diplomatic immunity to allow prosecution. The ensuing row led to Kenya closing the Rwandan embassy for several months.

Slain Rwandan was to testify at genocide court

http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/africa/9805/18/rwanda.death.folo/
May 18, 1998

Web posted at: 9:31 a.m. EDT (1331 GMT)

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Reuters) -- A former Rwandan minister murdered in Kenya had agreed to testify in the trial of a compatriot charged by a U.N. court with genocide, a defense lawyer said on Monday.

Defense lawyer Pascal Besnier told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Seth Sendashonga, a former Rwandan interior minister, had agreed to speak in defense of his client Obed Ruzindana, the Hirondelle News Agency reported.

Ruzindana and Clement Kayishema were jointly charged with genocide, inciting genocide and crimes against humanity during the slaughter of over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Sendashonga, a former interior minister, was gunned down Saturday with his driver in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

A Hutu, Sendashonga joined the rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in exile in 1992.

With President Pasteur Bizimungu, he was the most powerful Hutu in the RPF-led government formed in July 1994, after the genocide, but he was sacked a year later.

He fled to Kenya in 1995 where he led moderate Hutus who opposed what they saw as increasing oppression of the ethnic majority by the RPF and mainly Tutsi army.

Friends of Sendashonga accuse the Kigali government of ordering his murder. He was shot and injured in an earlier attempt on his life in Nairobi in 1996, an attack that sparked the expulsion of Rwanda's diplomats from Kenya.

On Monday Besnier told the court, established to try the chief suspects of the genocide, that Sendashonga had been approached eight days ago and had readily agreed to give evidence as an expert witness, in part because Òhe was opposed to the manipulation of the true circumstances."

Sendashonga had expressed willingness to testify in an open court and also to be identified, Besnier said. His only condition was that he be called as late as possible in the trial.

Besnier said the tribunal had not previously been informed of Sendashonga's willingness to appear, but on Monday he introduced a letter formalizing an agreement to testify and asked the court that statements he had made to defense lawyers be admitted to the court.

The prosecution did not oppose the motion on condition it constituted a deposition rather than evidence. It was the first time either a current or former member of the RPF had agreed to testify at the ICTR.

The Rwandan government derides the ICTR on the grounds it is moving at snail's pace and that the maximum sentence the court can hand down is life imprisonment.

The ICTR currently holds 23 genocide suspects and is yet to complete its first trial.

Rwanda's jails are bulging with 130,000 genocide suspects awaiting trial under that country's legal system. More than 300 have already been tried and more than 100 sentenced to death. The first 22 public executions were carried out on April 22.

Trio freed over former Rwandan minister's murder


May 31, 2001

Three men accused of murdering a former Rwandan minister have been acquitted by a Kenyan court.

Akiki Kiwanuka, a Rwandan, Charles Wamuthoni and Christopher Mulundo, both Ugandans, were arrested shortly after the killing of former Rwandan Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga in May 1998.

Justice Mbogholi Msagha, who acquitted the trio on Thursday, said the prosecution had not produced compelling evidence that they had murdered Sendashonga and his driver.


18 years of RPF: Is Rwanda any safer?


Publish Date: Jul 03, 2012

By Moses Walubiri
Wednesday marked 50 years of independence for Rwanda. However, as they reflect on an eventful post-independence journey that has been fraught with as many minefields as glowing examples of the resilience of the human spirit, the anniversary comes on the cusp of the RPF’s 18th anniversary in power.

Eighteen years ago, on July 4, Rwanda was drawing curtains on its darkest episode of its troubled post-independence odyssey.

After more than three years of fighting, the victorious Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) under the command of Paul Kagame captured power effectively, ending a genocide that had claimed about 800,000 lives.

This saw thousands of Hutu refugees — including alleged masterminds of the genocide — flee to Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where they have continued to provoke the regime in Kigali.

This, according to political observers, has been the reason behind Rwanda’s ‘interest’ in Eastern DRC, which has, at times, forced it to shore up di f f e ren t armed groups aimed at neutralizing the genocidal forces (Intarahamwe).

Although Rwanda has refuted claims that it is propping up Congolese reneged Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, history of its perennial security concerns over its border with DRC shows otherwise.

In 2000, Rwanda forces went into combat with the UPDF in Kisangani after efforts to mop up dissident forces operating in DRC went terribly awry.

Similarly, another mutinous Congolese soldier, Laurent Nkunda, was rumoured to have operated in the Kivu area with the support of the Kigali regime.

Although he has since been taken off the stage following his arrest in 2009, Nkunda’s continued ‘house arrest’ in Rwanda has done little to dispel whispers that the former war lord is merely a pawn in Rwanda’s bigger scheme, to keep an eye on its lawless western border.

Amid all these security concerns therefore, how safe is the ‘land of a thousand hills’, 18 years since Kagame’s forces took over?

While meeting journalists on Friday, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda, Frank Mugambagye, downplayed Rwanda’s security concerns, especially on the domestic front.

Through a multipronged approach, the RPF has maintained a firm grip on Rwanda.

The recently concluded Gacaca court system— a system of community justice tailored to fostering healing and moving on from the genocide — has expeditiously dispensed justice to thousands of genocide victims.

The Kigali regime has also expended enormous resources on lifting millions of Rwandese from poverty through investment in infrastructure, human resource, health insurance and creating an enabling climate for business.

“All Rwandans walk with their heads held high because their dignity has been redeemed. Rwanda is on course to become a middleincome country by the year 2020,” Mugambagye said.

President Kagame’s 93% victory in the 2010 presidential polls seems to vindicate Mugambagye.

However, the continued detention of opposition figure, Victoire Ngabire Umohoza, has forced political observers to raise a red flag over shrinking civil liberties in Rwanda. Mugambage, however, gave an explanation for Ngabire’s woes: “She is in jail over her connections with FDLR in DRC, which she has not denied.”

With many individuals opposed to Kagame in exile, Rwanda has become hyper security conscious.

Some of Kagame’s former close military allies — Patrick Karegeya and Kayumba Nyamwasa — are exiled in South African, with the latter famously surviving an assassination attempt that has been blamed on Kigali.

As Rwanda continues to trade barbs with the UN over its alleged support for Ntaganda, Kigali is deeply conscious of the threat posed by the ruckus in Eastern DRC.