Rwanda high court orders opposition leader to remain jailed for duration of trial

[JURIST] The Rwandan high court ruled Friday that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza [campaign website; JURIST news archive] will remain jailed for the duration of her trial on charges of forming a terrorist organization. Judge Johnstone Busingyi indicated that his decision was based on Ingabire's threat to state security [AP report]. The ruling follows an appeal of Tuesday's decision to deny bail and hold Ingabire for 30 days [AP report]. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has accused Rwanda of silencing dissent leading up to the presidential elections [HRW report] in August, which were marred by a series of attacks on outspoken government critics. In addition to Ingabire, Bernard Ntaganda, president of the opposition PS-Imberakuri party, was arrested in June and detained while awaiting trial. HRW has also called for an independent autopsy [HRW report] of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, after his body was found in July with his head severed and unusual marks on his body.

Ingabire has been subject to multiple arrests since returning to Rwanda in January after being exiled for 16 years. In October, Ingabire was arrested [JURIST report] on charges of being involved in the formation of a terrorist organization. Ingabire was implicated, authorities say, during investigations [AP report] into the activities of Joseph Ntawangundi, an aid to Ingabire, who was accused of commanding a Hutu militia group operating in neighboring Congo. In April, Ingabire was arrested [JURIST report] on accusations of denying the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Authorities cited Ingabire's call for the prosecution [AFP report] of those who killed Hutus during the genocide, in which over 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were slain, as evidence of her denial of the genocide. In May, Rwandan authorities arrested [JURIST report] US lawyer and JURIST Forum [website] contributor Peter Erlinder [professional profile; JURIST news archive] on charges of genocide denial while he was in Rwanda to prepare his defense of Ingabire. Erlinder returned to the US [JURIST report] in June after spending 21 days in a Rwandan prison.

 

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