Terror trial: Lt. Joel Mutabazi’s co-accused refuses to speak in court

The trial of Lt Joel Mutabazi, who is accused of treason and terrorism along with 15 others, resumed yesterday at the Military High Court in Kanombe with one of the co-accused, Joseph Nshimiyimana, refusing to respond to charges against him.
Joel Mutabazi (R) with his brother Jackson Karemera in court. Mutabazi as with Nshimiyimana decided to maintain silence in court and he refused to stand trial. File.
Joel Mutabazi (R) with his brother Jackson Karemera in court. Mutabazi as with Nshimiyimana decided to maintain silence in court and he refused to stand trial. File.

The trial of Lt Joel Mutabazi, who is accused of treason and terrorism along with 15 others, resumed yesterday at the Military High Court in Kanombe with one of the co-accused, Joseph Nshimiyimana, refusing to respond to charges against him.

Nshimiyimana, who is alleged to be a member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is accused of taking an assignment from Mutabazi to coordinate a series of grenade attacks around Kigali, particularly two grenade blasts that went off at Kicukiro market killing one and injuring 14 others.

Appearing before the Military High Court, Nshimiyimana who had initially pleaded guilty to all the charges changed and pleaded not guilty.

“I am not guilty of anything; I did not commit any crime and I won’t stand trial until I get a clear explanation of why I am here,” he said.

Nshimiyimana is charged with terrorism, formation of 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.

Judges’ effort to convince him speak hit a dead end as the suspect stood his ground and maintained silence.

His lawyer, Herbert Rubasha, expressed concerns over his client’s sudden refusal to stand trial and requested that the court grants him time to speak to him. But Nshimiyimana did not seem interested in talking to his lawyer either.

“There is nothing you will do to make me speak. With or without a lawyer, I will not respond to the charges against me,” Nshimiyimana told the court.

Meanwhile, during yesterday’s proceedings, prosecution projected a video captured during the interrogation of Lt Mutabazi in which he pleaded guilty of staging a shooting in an attempt to get asylum in Uganda.

In the video, Mutabazi gave details of how he acquired the gun, how he used it and disposed it off. Mutabazi has also maintained silence in court and refused to stand trial.

He is charged with deserting the military, terrorism, formation of an armed group, spreading rumours with intent to incite the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state, illegal possession of a firearm and attempt to harm the person of the President.

He was arrested and deported from Uganda last year.

 

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