A total of 38 suspects were on Friday evening released from Muhoza Police Station in Musanze District as part of the move to decongest cells across the country in attempt to control the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
This took effect after Prosecutor-General Aimable Havugayiremye announced a process that will see the release of a number of suspects held in different police stations all over the country.
In his letter to prosecutors dated April 1, Havugayiremye explained that a screening exercise will be carried out by a joint team comprised of Rwanda National Police, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA).
Those who were released from Muhoza Police Station include 10 women and 28 men.
With tears of joy, Adrien Niyibizi, one of those who were released commended the Government for its gesture to protect the lives of the detainees regardless of their misconduct in the community.
“I had been in Muhoza cells for the last two weeks, it was worrying for us given that every day suspects are brought into the cell; the thought of them being possible carriers of the virus is something we were worried about,” he said.
According to the chief prosecutor, those charged with serious crimes or recidivists will not benefit from the directive to decongest cells from across the country in attempt to control the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
To ease the process, Prosecutor Havugiyaremye broke down the specifics of what the teams must base on to determine who gets released into three categories.
In Category 1, the prosecutors are requested to register detainees who are accused of serious offenses such as murder, human trafficking, corruption, defilement, use and distribution of drugs and repeat offenders.
This particular category does not qualify for release and will wait for trial when the courts re-open, but officials said sufficient measures had been taken to ensure their safety from the virus.
In Category 2, the team is expected to compile a list of those who are legible to pay a fine and be released without necessarily being produced in court.
As for Category 3, the team will have a list of suspects who can be released on a conditional basis. This means that their cases can proceed after the courts open but the suspects will be tried while not under detention.
This category includes women in detention with babies, teenagers and those who can be released on police bond, upon establishing that they pose no danger to society.
This category also includes suspects whose detention is centred on family disputes and other disagreements that can be fixed by reconciliation with the wronged providing grounds for release. The case will, however, remain open.
Category three will also include suspects whose files lack sufficient evidence.