Scribes’ sentences slashed
The Supreme Court, yesterday, significantly reduced the sentences for two female journalists who were facing lengthy jail terms.
Agnes Nkusi Uwimana and Saidath Mukakibibi, of a local tabloid Umurabyo, had their sentences reduced to four and three years in jail, down from 17 and seven years, respectively. They were arrested in June 2010.
The initial rulings had been handed down by the High Court, in February last year.
The sentences cover the duration they have spent in jail, which is nearly two years – meaning Uwimana has to serve about two more years, while Mukakibibi remains with roughly one.
Uwimana was also relieved of the Rwf 250,000 fine she had been ordered to pay, but Mukakibibi was fined Rwf77, 000.
After the ruling, Uwimana’s lawyer Evariste Nsabayezu, said they were pleased with the verdict.
Uwimana, editor of the controversial tabloid, had been found guilty of four charges; threatening state security, instilling divisionism among Rwandans, inciting genocide ideology, and defamation.
Mukakibibi had initially been found guilty of threatening state security.
During yesterday’s ruling, Chief Justice, Sam Rugege, upheld earlier convictions on threatening state security and defamation for Uwimana, but cleared her of fuelling genocide ideology and instilling divisionism among Rwandans.
He also upheld Mukakibibi’s guilt on threatening state security.
The two, in their appeal, had maintained that they had been wrongly convicted by the High Court. They argued their publications were within the confines of the law and were merely practicing their rights–freedom of speech and expression.
The two journalists published articles, which prosecution deemed were designed to dissuade Rwandans from participating in national development programmes, such as the crop intensification drive, land consolidation and the credit and savings scheme, Saccos.
Uwimana, who was not in court yesterday, had requested for a lighter sentence, on grounds of poor health.
On the charge of threatening state security, Uwimana’s sentence was reduced from five to three years, while on defamation, the Supreme Court handed her one year in jail, down from three years.
Contact email: bosco.asiimwe[at]newtimes.co.rw