KIGALI - For Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, it never rains but pours. Three days after his arrest for allegedly concealing his foreign bank accounts from the Ombudsman and alleged embezzlement of state resources, the court yesterday handed him a one-year in prison sentence for bending tendering rules.
As Mutsindashyaka’s relatives and friends walked out of Kacyiru Court visibly crestfallen, it was all joy on the side of Charles Kasana, the former Eastern Province Executive Secretary who was acquainted of all charges.
The court set him free because the prosecution failed to sustain the case against him. After the verdict, Kasana closed his eyes, looked up and sighed with a sign of relief.
His friends outside the courtroom chanted and applauded briefly interrupting the court proceedings.
But as Kasana rejoiced, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Vincent Gatwabuyege’s troubles deepened further.
Just a day after being sentenced by a different court to 3 years in prison for robbing the government, he received another 4 years for circumventing tendering rules.
The court also found Alexis Mugarura and John Wilson Sekaziga guilty in the same case of flouting tendering rules and were sentenced to four years imprisonment each. Each will also pay a fine of Rwf 500,000.
The verdict was read in the absence of Mutsindashyaka, Gatwabuyege, Alexis Mugarura and John Wilson Sekaziga. All those convicted are also required to pay over Rwf300 million for the loss they caused the government.
Mugarura owned EMA, a construction company contracted to build offices for the Eastern Province Headquarters while Sekaziga owned Intertech, a consultancy firm charged with monitoring construction work at the headquarters.
The judge said that Mutsindashyaka, the former State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education signed a contract with EMA yet it was not his duty.
“This was the basis of the whole mess surrounding this case. Mutsindashyaka ignored the tendering rules,” Nyiramikenke ruled.
Prosecution also accused Mutsindashyaka of informing EMA Construction Company that it had won the tender nearly a month away before Rwanda public procurement authority announced the winner.
Others acquitted in the “Eastern Province trial” yesterday included Jean Habyarimana, Honore Munyanshongore, Yvonne Nyiramasengesho, Eliab Munyemana, Augutin Hategeka, Ishaka Habimana, Marie Claire Mukasine, Alex Karani Jean Marie Makombe.
Kasana who had spent seven months in jail was short of words.
“God is great! I was innocent and the writing was all over. I lack words to express my happiness,” he told The New Times shortly after the verdict.
Then his family members descended on him. Many cried with joy. “Seven months in prison without any crime is something disturbing. We leave everything in the hands of God for now,” Gasana’s wife commented.
It was not readily established whether all those convicted would appeal.