RWANDA FOCUS (Kigali)
16 May 2013
By Eric Didier Karinganire
A defense witness in the trial against Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire on Thursday told the Supreme Court that accusations against Ingabire were fabricated long before she came back to Rwanda. The prosecution, however, challenges her honesty.
The female sounding witness, who was in a separate room and codenamed AA to protect her full identity, told the court it was in 2009 that the plans to charge Ingabire with conspiracy with some former FDLR combatants were made up.
She said that three persons came to meet one of Ingabire’s four co-accused, a former FDLR combatant who is now ranked major, and tasked him to partner with them in accusing Ingabire of collaborating with FDLR. Vital Uwumuremyi is the one ranked major.
AA told the court that she was sharing the same five-room house with Uwumuremyi and that she was able to follow the full conversation.
“They showed him a picture of a woman on a newspaper. They told him that the woman was about to return and requested him to testify that she had been collaborating with FDLR,” she said.
The witness told the court that the woman on the picture was identified as Ingabire, although she said that she did not know her at the time. She added that Uwumuremyi too could not identify Ingabire when they first showed him the picture.
The witness said that Uwumuremyi accepted to partner and in turn he was given a new rank of major and a check of Frw 300,000.
After giving her testimony, both prosecution and lawyers of the co-accused interrogated the witness who responded verbally or by writing.
Asked by the prosecution whether she took the initiative herself to testify, AA responded that she was asked to do so by Gatera Gashabana, one of Ingabire’s lawyers; she added that he contacted her in 2010, although she was not sure of the exact month, saying that it might be in March.
AA also said that she recently met Ian Edwards, another defense lawyer, who also encouraged her to come and give the testimony in court. When the prosecution asked her what she exactly discussed with Edwards, she did not give any details.
All this led the prosecution to question AA’s honesty. “This is something indicating that the witness is not credible; she can’t remember what she discussed recently while she is able to remember all details of what she heard in 2009 when she was not even concerned,” prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa told the court.
AA had already sent her written testimony to the high court in April last year, but after Ingabire decided not to participate in the trial anymore, the witness did not present it in person to the court.
The High Court last year sentenced Ingabire to eight years in prison after finding her guilty of charges of genocide denial, and conspiracy and planning to cause state insecurity.
Both the defense and the prosecution have appealed.