Lt Mutabazi sentenced to life as two are acquitted in terror trial

The Military High Court yesterday sentenced Lt. Joel Mutabazi and one of his co-accused, Joseph Nshimiyimana, to life in prison and stripped him of his military ranks for crimes related to terrorism and murder, in a marathon ruling that lasted for about nine hours.
Lt. Joel Mutabazi
Lt. Joel Mutabazi

The Military High Court yesterday sentenced Lt. Joel Mutabazi and one of his co-accused, Joseph Nshimiyimana, to life in prison and stripped him of his military ranks for crimes related to terrorism and murder, in a marathon ruling that lasted for about nine hours.

The two were jointly tried with 14 others, two of whom were acquitted, while the rest were sentenced to various prison terms, ranging from four months to 25 years.

“The court finds Mutabazi guilty on all charges… The court orders that, due to the seriousness of the crimes he committed, he be sentenced to life and effectively be stripped of his military ranks,” said the presiding judge, Maj. Bernard Rugamba Hakizimana.

Mutabazi immediately removed his military pips and placed them on the dock before the judge.

Prosecution had accused Mutabazi of terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state, illegal possession of a firearm and deserting the military.

Judge Hakizimana also sentenced Nshimiyimana, a former FDLR officer, to life in prison saying: “Nshimiyimana is guilty on all charges against him; he exhibited complete disrespect for the court during the trial and was not sorry for the crimes he committed”.

He was found guilty of terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder and crimes against the state.

Two others were acquitted. They included Jean de Dieu Nizigiyeho, who was found guilty on some charges but acquitted on grounds that he reported the case to authorities which led to the crackdown against the group. The other one, Dativa Murekeyisoni, was also acquitted because she cooperated and there was no tangible evidence incriminating her.