Terror trial verdict suspended

The Military High Court yesterday decided to delay a verdict in the case involving Lt. Joel Mutabazi and 15 others facing charges related to terrorism, saying it needed more time to investigate a new aspect in the case.

The Military High Court yesterday decided to delay a verdict in the case involving Lt. Joel Mutabazi and 15 others facing charges  related to terrorism, saying it needed more time to investigate a new aspect in the case.

The court was due to deliver a verdict in the case yesterday.   

“During deliberations, the defendants requested for some evidence, which we found important to get and scrutinise before delivering the final verdict,” said Maj. Bernard Hategekimana, the presiding judge.

He said the court deemed it necessary to launch its own investigation to get the evidence in question, saying that it is in line with the law.

“The law allows court to conduct investigations and come up with new evidence that any of the parties may not have brought to court.”

The judge did not divulge the kind of evidence requested by the defendants.

“The findings from the investigations will be brought before court on September 12 for deliberation by both   the defendants and prosecution,” said the judge.

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) militia and students formerly at the National University of Rwanda.

Mutabazi, whose trial opened in substance in January this year, was indicted on charges of terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with intent to incite the public to rise up against the State, murder, crimes against the State and illegal possession of a firearm.

He pleaded not guilty on all charges and refused to testify in court.

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

Prosecutors further requested that Mutabazi, who is also accused of deserting the armed forces, be stripped of his military rank.

 

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