The Military High Court on Friday, May 29 granted bail to 3 of the 5 Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) soldiers charged with assault.
The development came after an appeal filed by the soldiers against a 30-day remand handed to them by a military tribunal on May 13.
The soldiers, all at the rank of private, along with one civilian are charged with committing several acts of aggression against citizens of Kangondo 2 village, Nyarutarama cell in Remera Sector, Gasabo District, City of Kigali.
They are said to have committed these crimes on different dates in March this year.
The prosecution has charged two of the soldiers; Fidele Nishimwe and Patrick Ndayishimiye with rape, robbery, creating and being part of a criminal group, beating and injuring people, trespass, as well as abandoning their patrol stations and not respecting its regulations.
The other three; Francois Gatete, John Gahirwa, and Theoneste Twagirimana; along with two local security officers; Donat Ntakaziraho and Diane Mukamulisa were charged with being accessories to crimes committed by the duo, being part of a criminal group, trespassing, abandoning their patrol stations, and failure to report violent crime. (Mukamulisa was granted bail owing to the fact that she is nursing an infant child).
In a bail ruling held on 13th May, court had remanded all the 6. The court ruled that there was evidence that Nishimwe and Ndyishimye committed crimes of rape, abandoning patrol stations and not respecting their regulations, beating and injuring people, and robbery.
Similarly, the judges said there was enough ground for Gahirwa, Twagirimana and Gatete to be suspected of abandoning patrol and not respecting its regulations, and failure to report violent crime committed by Nishimwe and Ndayishimiye.
However, during an appeal ruling on Friday, May 29, the military high court granted bail to three of the officers: John Gahirwa, Theoneste Twagirimana and Francois Gatete.
The judges said there wasn’t enough reasonable ground for the three to be suspected of abandoning patrol stations and not respecting their regulations. This is because neither the regulations of the patrol stations were clearly showcased to court.
For the charges of failure to report violent crime, the court also cleared the trio, saying there was no evidence that they really knew what their two counterparts were doing.
For Ndayishimiye and Nishimwe, the court remanded them saying there was reasonable ground for both to be suspected of robbery and beating and injuring people. This is because many witnesses gave uniform testimonies about them in regard to this crime.
For rape, court said there were no strong reasons for Ndayishimiye to be suspected.
According to the judges, there were loopholes in the testimonies of the woman who claims to have been raped by Ndayishimiye, among which in an earlier statement with prosecution, the lady in question described the man who raped her as one that had a gap in between his teeth, yet Ndayishimiye doesn’t have one.
For Nishimwe, the court ruled that there was reasonable grounds to suspect him to have raped one of the two women he is charged with. According to the judges, one of the raped women described the man who assaulted her as a short man with a gap in his teeth, which is the likeness of Nishimwe.
However, court said there wasn’t enough evidence that pins Nishimwe to the rape of the second woman. Here, court cast doubts on the claim that this was rape, rather than sex with consent, citing an earlier statement where the woman in question told investigators that she went with Nishimwe to a shop, bought a condom together and then went to her house and had sex.