Finance ministry PS, top officials charged with abuse of public funds

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Caleb Rwamuganza (right) and his co-accused and lawyers inside the Gasabo Primary Court in Kigali yesterday. Courtesy

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Caleb Rwamuganza and his co-accused appeared before Gasabo Primary Court where they were charged with different counts related to mismanaging public funds.

Rwamuganza is also the secretary to the treasury.

 

The other officials include Godfrey Kabera, the Director-General for National Planning and Eric Serubibi who was until recently the Director-General of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA).

 

Another co-accused in the case is Christian Rwankunda, who is formerly the Deputy Director-General in charge of fund management at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).

 

The officials, who are all in custody, face charges including misuse of public property, flouting of procedures on public tenders and complicity in flouting tendering procedures.

Together with their lawyers, they all appeared in court on Thursday, June 11, for bail hearing, though it did not materialize, owing to prosecution’s failure to feed the details of their charges into the online case management system.

The integrated system is accessed by all stakeholders in the judiciary to ease management of cases.

This is the second time that the case has been postponed.

Initially, the hearing had been scheduled for last week, but it did not due to similar reasons.

Appearing before court, the defendants’ lawyers complained to court that they had not been able to access the files detailing the accusations that their clients face because prosecution had not fed them into the system.

“Two days ago, we logged into the online system and reminded court and prosecution to assist us with the documents concerning our clients’ charges. But until today, it has not been done,” said Moise Nkundabarashi, who is representing Rwamuganza.

Some lawyers also cited other challenges.

Among these, Alphonse Sebazungu who represents Serubibi told court that police stopped him from accessing his client from where he is detained to prepare their defence.

“Yesterday I wanted to meet my client at a police station where he is being held, but police officers did not allow me. Yet, it was necessary for us to meet and prepare the defence,” he said.

In response, the prosecutor in charge of the case told court that there is a general problem in the online system, specifically on the part of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) who are currently unable to feed documents into the system.

Here, the prosecutor said that the defendants’ lawyers should have approached court or prosecution itself and got the documents in another form, for example on flash disks.

About lawyer Sebazungu’s claim that he was stopped from seeing his client, some of the hindrances were as a result of measures by police to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He said they (prosecution) talked to police to facilitate the meetings between lawyers and their clients.

Due to such hindrances, the presiding judge postponed the bail hearing to June 18, to give time the lawyers to access the files and also meet their clients to discuss their defence.

Consequently, the details in the case and the nature in which the officials colluded were not divulged during the proceeding.

hkuteesa@newtimesrwanda.com

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


For news tips and story ideas please WhatsApp +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News