Lt. Mutabazi judgment suspended as court conducts further investigation

The presiding judge in the case involving Lt Joel Mutabazi and 15 others accused of terrorism and treason among other charges has postponed judgment and adjourned the trial until 12, September. This is due to new evidence that the judges want to examine before making their decision.
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)

The presiding judge in the case involving Lt Joel Mutabazi and 15 others accused of terrorism and treason among other charges has postponed judgment and adjourned the trial until 12, September. This is due to new evidence that the judges want to examine before making their decision.

A definitive judgment was expected today at the Kanombe Military High Court.

"While reviewing the trial, the Court found that the defendants requested for some evidence, which we found important to analyse well before a verdict is delivered” said Maj. Bernard Rugamba Hategekimana, the presiding judge.

“The analysis will be done by the Court in its investigations as stipulated by the law. The law allows the court to conduct investigations and come up with new evidence that any of the parties may not have brought to court”.

“The findings of the court investigations will be brought before court on September 12, 2014 where both the defendants and prosecution will deliberate", Hategekimana ended.

Prosecution is seeking a life sentence for Mutabazi and varying sentences for the others who include suspected operatives of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and students formerly at the National University of Rwanda.

The sentences sought range from life to 20 years of imprisonment.

Mutabazi, whose trial opened in substance in January this year, was indicted on charges of "terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state and illegal possession of a firearm," as stated by Prosecution.

While reading the closing submission last month, Prosecutor Faustin Nzakamwita referred to the charges as serious crimes – a basis for him to request for a life sentence for Mutabazi, a former officer in the presidential guard.

However, Mutabazi pleaded not guilty on all charges and during the trial refused to testify in court, instead protested his innocence.

Prosecution linked him and 15 other co-accused to a spate of grenade attacks carried out in the country last year, which it said were masterminded by the accused working under the direction of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and FDLR.

It was also requested by prosecutors that Mutabazi, who is also accused of deserting the armed forces, be stripped of his military rank.

 

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