GASABO - The trial of the former Managing Director of The New Times, which wound up at the Kacyiru Court of First Instance, this week raised a few eyebrows, when the presiding judge rescinded her earlier ruling.
John Bosco Sanyu, who was at the helm of Rwanda’s only daily between 2004 and 2005, is charged with several counts of embezzlement and abuse of office while at the media house. When the court last sat on July 18, the accused had tried to buy time by saying that he had not studied his file.
“There is nothing I can say to defend myself since I asked for the dossier several times and could not get it,” Sanyu told the court then, before refusing to answer any questions.
This angered the president of the court, Claudine Nyiramikenke, who concluded that the accused was not telling the truth and was disrespectful to the court.
“What evidence shows that you came to court and I refused to give you the dossier?” snapped an angry Nyiramikenke.
“Who said it was in the president’s office and therefore you could not access it? It was your right to come and pick it anytime and even if your lawyer had come we would have given it to him. I don’t agree with that. You are lying to the court” she said.
Nyiramikenke ordered the trial to proceed and set the date for the verdict for July 16, but the court never convened. Reliable information available to The New Times indicates that after the trial, Sanyu wrote an apology to the court seeking to be given another chance to defend himself.
Now it turns out that the president of the court is considering backtracking on her original ruling and has set September 2 as the date to discuss Sanyu’s letter with the prosecution. Legal experts who spoke to The New Times said it was an unusual move by the judge.
“It is unprecedented to retry a case that was disposed of before any verdict has been pronounced. This is undermining justice and an attempt to rewrite law books,” stated one of the experts who requested not to be identified.
John Bosco Sanyu is accused of embezzling over Frw50m some of which he claimed he had donated to Umutara Polytechnic. Prosecutors claim the money was instead diverted by the accused to his personal bank account.
“Given all the evidence, we request the court to sentence Sanyu to three years in prison for abuse of office and to order him to pay all court fees and those suing for damages to be compensated,” requested the prosecutor.
The Office of the Prosecutor was not available to comment on the latest twist from The Kacyiru Court of First Instance.