JUDICIARY - Forty lawyers have had their practicing licenses revoked by Kigali Bar Association after violating various regulations governing the body. According to the chairman of the Bar, Gatera Gashabana, most of the disbarred lawyers were sacked for failing to pay their annual contribution to the association.
Others flew out of the country for different reasons without notice, Gashabana said.
“They went out of the country for different reasons and they have neither paid nor written to us explaining why they failed to meet their financial commitments,” Gashabana said yesterday.
Other sacked lawyers were being prosecuted for different criminal charges forcing them to flee the country and some of them sentenced to different prison terms, he added.
The most recent case involves a lawyer, Alphonse Ndoba, who fled the country during the course of his trial on charges of swindling his client’s money.
His client is currently in prison for allegedly murdering her husband.
Ndoba, who was accused of taking money amounting to Frw25 million, was subsequently sentenced to a five-year imprisonment in absentia.
A source said that some of the disbarred counsels had left the country on fears that they would face Gacaca jurisdiction.
However, Gashabana dismissed the claim saying that even if they fled Gacaca, the Bar would not be the bonafide authority to pursue Gacaca suspects.
A source cited one Robert Bizindori as one of the Gacaca suspects who fled the country before he appeared before a Gacaca jury.
The names of all the lawyers have been submitted to all the 72 courthouses in the country and they all ceased to appear in courts neither as defence attorneys, legal advisers or paralegals.
Meanwhile, Justice Johnson Busingye, the president of the High Court, said revoking the licenses of errant lawyers was a good move to administer discipline within learned friends.
“When you control a large group like that, it is absolute that you maintain maximum discipline because it is the cornerstone of competence and pride within the profession,” Busingye said.
Despite the sacking, however, Busingye will tomorrow preside over the swearing in of forty new entrants to the Bar and one State Attorney, which raises the number of registered practicing lawyers in the country to 306.
The Kigali Bar has in the past few years been embroiled in the struggle of increasing the number and quality of lawyers, who barely a decade ago were less than 20 in the whole country.
Following Rwanda’s accession into the East African Community this year, Gashabana was last month made a board member of the East African Law Society (EALS).