RUBAVU - The Rubavu Intermediate Court on Thursday sentenced the Mayor of Ngororero and his deputy to five and six-year jail terms respectively over the embezzlement of public funds.Both Mayor Cyprian Nsengimana and Jacques Habimana, the vice-Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs were sentenced in absentia and are reportedly on the run.
The court also slapped a fine of Rwf20,000 and Rwf40,000 on Nsengimana and Habimana respectively.
Police have mounted a search for the officials who have not reported to duty since Monday.
Nsengimana is the first sitting Mayor to be handed a jail sentence.
Both suspects and an accomplice identified as Bonaventure Mfizi were accused of embezzling public funds meant for a workshop on environment that brought together different stake-holders in the district.
The officials were found guilty of inflating the number of participants from 16 to 76 with the aim of pocketing the extra funds that they received from the environment project DEMP.
It is alleged by prosecution that the duo, together with Mfizi, an employee of DEMP, connived to embezzle Rwf 425,000, However, Mfizi was cleared by the court.
“Court has decided to acquit Mpfizi because there is no evidence pinning him to the crime,” the verdict, a copy of which The New Times has obtained reads in part.
Both Emelline Nyembo the acting Rubavu Prosecutor and prosecution spokesman Augustin Nkusi could not comment on the ongoing search of the culprits.
The case comes on the back of the sacking of several mayors and other top local government officials largely over corruption or embezzling public funds.
Currently the former mayor of Gatsibo, Vianney Murego is remanded at Nsinda Prison in the Eastern Province awaiting trial to answer alleged embezzlement charges.