Critic of Rwandan president cleared of treason and forgery


A prominent critic of the veteran Rwandan president Paul Kagame has been acquitted of charges that included inciting insurrection and forging of documents. Cheers broke out in the courtroom in the capital Kigali where Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline were acquitted of charges that were widely seen as politically motivated. They hugged supporters, hands in the air in celebration. “Court rules that Diane Rwigara is innocent,” judge Xavier Ndahayo, one of a panel of three, told the packed courtroom. The judges described the charges as “baseless”.

The country’s first female independent candidate for the Rwandan presidency, 37-year-old Rwigara was accused of forgery in relation to her unsuccessful attempt to run against the long-time president Kagame, and has been in jail for a year. She faced 22 years behind bars if convicted. The Rwandan election commission had said that some of the 600 signatures she had submitted – a requirement for aspiring presidential candidates – were forged, and that some of the people on her list were dead. She was not allowed to run and Kagame won a third term with 99% of the vote.

Rwigara’s mother was accused of inciting insurrection through audio messages sent on WhatsApp, which were intercepted and used as evidence by the prosecution. But the court ruled that these were merely conversations between individuals and did not prove that she was promoting insurrection. After announcing her intention to run for president, nude pictures of the younger Rwigara were leaked online.(theguardian)…[+]