Prosecution seeks life sentence for Lt. Mutabazi

Prosecution yesterday asked the Military High Court to hand Lt. Joel Mutabazi a life sentence for crimes linked to terrorism.
Joel Mutabazi (in military fatigue) and his co-accused in court. (John Mbanda)
Joel Mutabazi (in military fatigue) and his co-accused in court. (John Mbanda)

Prosecution yesterday asked the Military High Court to hand Lt. Joel Mutabazi a life sentence for crimes linked to terrorism.

Mutabazi, who maintains a not guilty plea, is on trial alongside 15 others at the Military High Court.

While making his closing arguments,  Military Prosecutor Lt. Faustin Nzakamwita prayed court to convict Mutabazi on all the eight charges.

The case exposed links between the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), another outfit with which they connived to carry out a series of grenade attacks in the country.

The charges that Mutabazi stands accused of include; formation of an armed group, conspiracy against the President, terrorism, conspiracy against the established government, spreading false information with intent to cause hostile international opinion against the Rwandan government, illegal possession of firearms and desertion.

“For all these charges, we request a life sentence for Lt. Mutabazi and for him to be stripped of his military rank,” the military prosecutor said.

Mutabazi, a former member of the presidential guard, is accused of deserting the military in October 2011 until last year, when he was arrested and extradited by Ugandan authorities.

When he was arraigned before the Military Tribunal, Mutabazi had pleaded guilty, but he changed his plea when the trial began in substance at the Military High Court, after he fell out with his initial lawyer, Antoinette Mukamusoni.

Court heard earlier how Mutabazi deserted the military, and staged an attack at his house in Uganda as a plot to blame the Rwandan government and secure asylum.

Prosecution also linked Lt. Mutabazi and his 15 co-accused to a spate of grenade attacks that claimed dozens of lives and injured over a hundred across the country.

Meanwhile, Prosecution also sought life sentence for Joseph Nshimiyimana, an FDLR operative alleged to be the mastermind of the two Kicukiro market grenade attacks that left two dead and injured close to 50 others.

Prosecution also sought varying sentences for the other co-accused, who include students at the former National University of Rwanda, FDLR operatives and Mutabazi’s relatives.

Among other sentences asked by the Prosecution, include, 37 years for nine of the co-accused, 20 years for Jean Marie Vianney Ngabonziza and Jean de Dieu Niziyiheho, respectively. Trial continues today as defendants continue giving their final submissions.

 

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