Nyarugenge Intermediate Court has handed the suspended State Minister in charge of Culture Edouard Bamporiki a four-year jail sentence and a fine of Rwf 60 million. He was convicted on two counts of fraudulent acquisition of another person's property and abusing the authority given to him by the law. Bamporiki and his lawyers were not in court during the ruling, and so were prosecutors. Prosecution had sought a 20-year sentence and a fine of Rwf200m but Bamporiki's lawyer, Jean Baptiste Habyarimana had asked for a suspended sentence on grounds that his client had pleaded guilty and had been cooperative throughout the trial. In delivering the judgement, the bench of three judges ruled that Bamporiki “doesn't deserve a suspended sentence. It would not teach any lesson for the public if someone of his status as a state minister of culture and someone who championed values is not punished.” By law, Bamporiki, who has been under house arrest since he was suspended in May, has 30 days to appeal. Case details During the hearing, the prosecution told the court of how Bamporiki solicited a bribe from businessman Norbert Gatera, promising to help him have the City of Kigali reopen his factory, which had been closed due to not meeting requirements. Bamporiki's lawyers had questioned whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the case, which they said should have started in the primary court as the law dictates, before heading to the intermediate court but the court dismissed the claim saying that it was competent to hear the case. His lawyers claimed that there is no proof that their client used his position to solicit or take a bribe and that he only received a reward for brokering a deal between the businessman and the city authorities and claimed that the businessman was his personal friend that he was helping. The prosecution pointed out that Bamporiki’s position made it easy for him to convince people below him in terms of hierarchy to act as he wished, which amounts to misuse of public office. Court heard how Bamporiki reportedly kept Gatera under pressure to deliver the money, Rwf5m and another Rwf10m, which the businessman had previously given the Minister. Despite paying up, Gatera is said to have felt cheated and coerced into paying huge amounts of money, which prompted him to report the case. Court was told that on April 20, Gatera filed a case with Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), stating that he was being threatened by Bamporiki, that his factory will be closed for good if he doesn’t pay the required amount. Prosecution presented to court proof that Bamporiki received another Rwf10m from Gatera to help him secure release of his wife, who was arrested in connection with the illegally built factory. The duo stayed in touch with Bamporiki reportedly asking for more offers. However, Bamporiki said that he showed the goodwill to advocate for her release but not for a fee, a point which was reiterated by his lawyers who said that when someone is ‘thanked’ for the good gesture, it does not constitute a crime.