Twelve former members of the executive committee and pastors of the Association of the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda (ADEPR) were yesterday arraigned in the Chamber of Economic Crimes at the Intermediate Court of Gasabo in Kigali.
The accused include Jean Sibomana, the Church’s former spokesperson and his deputy Thomas Rwagasana, former Secretary General Leonard Sebagabo, Director of Finance, Christine Mutuyemariya, and Valence Gasana, who was also from the finance department.
The new development followed last week’s arraignment in the same court where the judge stated that he had no jurisdiction on crimes related to mismanagement of funds, referring the case to the Chamber of Economic Crimes of the same court.
Prosecution accuses the dozen of committing three crimes that include complicity in embezzlement, counterfeiting and use of counterfeit documents and misuse of property of public interest.
It based on an audit report carried out by Global Professional Organisation (GPO) which established that over Rwf5 billion went missing during the construction of the church’s Dove Hotel.
Prosecution gave an example of over Rwf2.3 billion that was spent without supporting documents.
“There are several unjustifiable payments made by members of the executive committee,” said the prosecutor.
The defendants dismissed the authenticity of the audit report, claiming that it was done in their absence, while they had been arrested, and therefore had no chance to present their side of the story.
Sibomana, like his co-defendants, petitioned court to order the prosecution to present each one’s role in the disappearance of the money as alleged in the audit report.
They also argued that there were discrepancies between the figures in the auditor’s report and the amount the prosecution alleges the group mismanaged.
Prosecution acknowledged the discrepancies and said it was because the accused were not present during the audit.
“The audit shows over Rwf5 billion but the evidence of the embezzled amount is Rwf2.3 billion. If the group had been available they would have provided more evidence for or against them,” said the prosecution.
On the other hand, ADEPR’s lawyers Cyprien Nsabimana and Vincent Rwigema, said the auditor’s report is fully reliable because it contains exhibits and it was a “forensic report” that can be done in the absence of audited party.
“The question is not the report; the question is about the exhibits the report provides. Funds disappeared during their time of office”.
The judge wanted to know from the defendants if their presence during the time of audit would have made a difference.
Sibomana said that his group would present all the facts that their accusers omitted.
“We built the hotel and it was inaugurated. The challenge is we’re not given a chance to show the breakdown of the structure and the money spent”.
The defendants petitioned court to summon the auditor for clarifications, including on the money that was spent before the accused team assumed power.