Prosecution yet to appeal bail for former Karongi Mayor

Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to challenge a court’s decision that granted bail to the former Mayor of Karongi, Bernard Kayumba.Kayumba is jointly charged with three other district officials in a case involving counterfeiting reports related to the community health insurance commonly known as Mutuelle de Sante.

Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to challenge a court’s decision that granted bail to the former Mayor of Karongi, Bernard Kayumba.

Kayumba is jointly charged with three other district officials in a case involving counterfeiting reports related to the community health insurance commonly known as Mutuelle de Sante.

The decision, which was announced on Monday by the Karongi Intermediate court, means that Kayumba, who served as Mayor for nine years before stepping down about ten days ago, will be temporarily released from custody pending a formal trial.

Alain Mukurarinda, the Spokesperson for the National Public Prosecution Authority, said on Tuesday that they are yet to decide on the next step following the decision.

Three other defendants in the case- Philipe Turatsinze, Innocent Gashema and Samuel Muvunyi - were denied bail and the court ordered them to be detained for 30 days as investigations continue.

The officials were charged with three counts: counterfeiting documents related to Mutuelle de Sante, embezzlement and the use of counterfeit documents.

“We are still studying the arguments advanced by the judge to grant Kayumba bail,” Mukurarinda said, noting that prosecution still has days to study the court’s decision.

“After a thorough analysis, we shall decide which step to take.”

He said when prosecution applied for the suspects to be provisionary detained, it presented to the court what was thought to be serious reasons to put them on preventive detention.

"But the judge concluded otherwise and decided that the mayor should be temporarily released.

We are looking into the decision before taking any other step,” Mukurarinda explained, before noting: “Legally, there is nothing wrong with granting a defendant bail. Only that the arguments presented need to be convincing.”

The court’s decision to release Kayumba on bail came after his three co-accused earlier pleaded guilty to the charges of counterfeiting documents related to the Mutuelle scheme.

They also told the court that Kayumba “was unaware” of the irregularities and said they should bear ‘total responsibility’ for what happened.

But the prosecution refuted the claims, terming them as an attempt by the trio to save Kayumba.

Last Friday, a judge in the south-western district of Rusizi denied bail to the former Mayor Oscar Nizeyimana and four others on a similar trial and sent them on remand for 30 days.

The officials are, among others, accused of inflating figures related to mutuelle subscription to get a better score in the evaluation of performance contracts, Imihigo.

The officials were arrested and put on trial following an audit over the use of the scheme’s funds which exposed inconsistencies between Mutuelle beneficiaries and the total premiums.

The audit also raised fears that subscriptions paid by members of the scheme in the districts of Rusizi, Nyamasheke and Karongi may have been mismanaged.

Since then, the mayors of the three districts and other top officials have been arrested in relation to the malpractices.

The mayor of Nyamasheke, Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, who is also under detention, is yet to appear in court for trial.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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