Government officials appeal remand in multi-billion tender case

Gasabo Intermediate Court.

Senior government officials that are being prosecuted for flouting laws in a multi-billion francs public tender on Friday, July 3 appealed against a 30-day remand that was handed to them by court last month.

The officials including Caleb Rwamuganza, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Godfrey Kabera, the Director-General in the Ministry of Finance, Eric Serubibi, the former Director-General of Rwanda Housing Authority and Christian Rwankunda, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure are charged with cases related to conspiring to mishandle a transaction of purchasing a building from local businessman Aloys Rusizana in 2018.

The building in question is an office block opposite Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru. According to prosecution, it was valued at Rwf7.5 billion, but was later purchased by the government at Rwf9.8 billion.

The four officials are being prosecuted along with businessman Rusizana, and Bonaventure Munyabugingo, a private property valuer. The two are charged with complicity in the mismanagement of the tender.

All the six were denied bail on June 23 by the Gasabo Primary Court, which ruled that there is reasonable ground that they committed the crimes.

On Friday, July 3, the six appeared before the Gasabo Intermediate Court, appealing against the Primary Court's decision.

The appeal, according to their lawyers, is based on a number of factors that the primary court judge did not take into account while remanding their clients.

Among these, the lawyers said that the Court based its decision on only one valuation done by Gasabo 3D (estimated the building to be around 7. 5 billion Rwanda Francs). This is despite the fact that there are 4 other valuations which should also be considered.

In addition, the lawyers argued that the Court did not consider the securities presented by their clients to court for bail.

According to Moise Nkundabarashi, a lawyer representing Caleb Rwamuganza, the securities that the defendants presented are altogether over Rwf5 billion, an amount which is way higher than the money that prosecution says was lost in the tender transaction.

These among other reasons are the issues the defendants presented in the appeal.

Not all the defendants were able to present their case on Friday, therefore the court designated July 9 as a date for the continuation of the hearing.

Here,  Eric Serubibi, Caleb Rwamuganza and Bonaventure Munyabugingo will be heard, since they did not get time to speak on Friday.

Friday's appeal hearing was partly conducted using Skype to link the lawyers and judges in court with the remanded officials who participated in the hearing from prison.

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