Court of Appeal maintains 10 years jail term for ivory trafficker

Elephant tusks being burnt in Nyamasheke District as a way of dissuading traffickers of endangered animal species. Net photo.

The Court of Appeal in Kigali dismissed the appeal of Reverien Nshimiyimana who had been convicted by the High Court Rwamagana Chamber for trafficking protected endangered animal species.

The court read its ruling yesterday in the absence of the appellant and his lawyer. It said Nshimiyimana’s appeal had no substantial basis and maintained that the conviction spelt by the High Court Rwamagana Chamber be respected.

The accused had pleaded not guilty had been convicted to 10 years of imprisonment and Rwf500,000 in fines.

Nshimiyimana petititoned the Court of Appeal saying that he was an “informer to a police investigator who was tracing elephant tusks traffickers”.

While submitting his appeal mid-October 2018, Nshimiyimana told the court that he was requested by a police officer known as Ezekiel Twagiramungu who employed him to trace the dealers.

The court of appeal dismissed Nshimiyimana’s allegations of being an informer for a police officer saying that if it was true, Nshimiyimana would have raised the same issue in the initial stages of his trial.

 “The claims that Nshimiyimana was working with judicial police have no basis because he did not present it in the High Court” the judge said.

During the hearing in October, prosecution wondered why Nshimiyimana, a driver in Kigali, would be chosen by the alleged police officer as the best person to trace the traffickers in Kirehe District.

Prosecution also wondered why it was easy for the accused to trace the dealers, a fact of his involvement in elephant tusks trafficking.

Six men, including Nshimiyimana, were intercepted by in Kirehe District in Eastern Province in 2015, after information that they were planning to amass elephant tusks which they would sell to Rome through some catholic priests.

Two were acquitted while four were sentenced at the High Court Chamber of Rwamagana.

Among the four, one pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years. He did not bother to appeal while Nshimiyimana and other two appealed.

The two, Saidi Ndahayo and Emile Mutsindashyaka benefited from a presidential pardon and withdrew their appeal.

The one who didn’t bother appealing is finishing his sentence in July 2019.