•Fails to crack under defence pressure
KACYIRU - Théoneste Mutsindashyaka’s defence lawyer yesterday questioned the impartiality of the Kacyiru Court of Lower Instance Judge Claudine Nyiramikenke, whom she said lacked independence to conduct a fair trial.
Mutsindashyaka’s lawyer, Beatrice Umubyeyi told a fully packed courtroom that her client had legitimate concerns because Nyiramikenke had shown interest in the case last month.
According to Umubyeyi, the judge on August 20, wrote in the letter summoning her client that Mutsindashyaka had accepted the crime “even before his (Mutsindashyaka) side was heard.”
Umubyeyi stressed that the principle of the law is that every person is innocent until proven guilty.
“We have concerns that we might not get a fair hearing. We request that Judge Nyiramikenke steps down in this case,” Umubyeyi pleaded before the court went for a 4 hour break.
But when Nyiramikenke came back after the break, she declared she was going nowhere.
“I will preside over this case because the grounds given by the defence lawyer to force me to step down do not add up.”
Nyiramikenke said she didn’t violate any law and asked Umubyeyi to critically analyze the books of law.
“I repeat I am going to be in charge and the hearing of a case against Mutsindashyaka starts tomorrow (today) at 8am,” Nyiramikenke announced.
Nyiramikenke explained that she was not conclusive on whether Mutsindashyaka had committed a crime in her letter.
Since Mutsindashyaka had been implicated, the judge argued she only found it highly necessary to have him in court and explain his role.
Mutsindashyaka, a former State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education was in court to explain his alleged role in a tender scam in the Eastern Province.
According to prosecution, he is said to be party to the case involving former provincial official Charles Kasana and Vincent Gatwabuyenge who served as the Permanent Secretary, in the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Kasana was the provincial Executive Secretary the time Mutsindashyaka was the Governor, the same time when a contract was signed to sanction construction works on the province’s headquarters.
Gatwabuyege and Kasana are charged with awarding a construction firm, Entreprise Mugarura Alexis (EMA), a multi-billion tender in 2007 to construct the headquarters without following standard procedures.
Mutsindashyaka is being summoned in his capacity as former Governor of the Eastern Province, under whose term the tender was awarded.
He appeared in court together with the permanent secretary, in the Ministry of infrastructure Marie Claire Mukasine, her assistant Alexis Karani and Jean Vianney Makombe.
Mukasine and Karani reportedly approved money for EMA even after the company had been named in the scandal. The Judge stressed that the law should not be applied selectively.
The Judge said the officials are in court as suspects and not witnesses because they are party the case No RP 0177/09/TB/KCY.
According to a charge sheet submitted to court by prosecution on July 23, Mutsindashyaka, is suspected to have informed EMA that it had won a tender a month before the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) pronounced the winner.
According to Nyiramikenke, prosecution had earlier interrogated Mutsindashyaka on June, 11 2009 as a suspect.
The court heard yesterday that Mutsindashyaka was quizzed by prosecution on why he signed a contract with EMA yet it was the work of the then Executive Secretary, Kasana.
Mugarura won a tender with a bid of Rwf1.7bn but he continued asking for additional money almost double the original offer yet one is not allowed to request for more than 20 % of the original bid.