Rubavu High Court yesterday sentenced two former police officers to 20 years in jail for the murder of Gustave Makonene, the former coordinator of Transparency International (TI) Rwanda in Rubavu District, Western Province.
The convicts are Corporals Nelson Iyakaremye and Isaac Ndabarinze.
Makonene was found dead in July 2013 on the shores of Lake Kivu in Nyamvumba Sector, Rubavu District after the convicts led the victim from Labamba bar, handcuffed and bundled him into a waiting car before strangling him using a rope, according to prosecutor Vincent Niyonzima.
Niyonzima said the accused killed Makonene because he was aware of their involvement in mineral smuggling from DR Congo into Rwanda.
He added that Makonene had warned the duo against the illegal act but they refused to heed his advice and instead planned to kill him.
The prosecutor prayed court to hand the suspects the heaviest sentence (life in jail) due to the gravity of the crime, which was premeditated murder.
But presiding Judge Esron Gashyende, while reading the verdict, said that although the two men had been found guilty of committing a crime that usually attracts a life sentence, they received a lighter sentence because they had had confessed, pleaded guilty, and cooperated during both investigations and subsequent proceedings.
The verdict session was attended by about 20 people.
However, both Transparent International Rwanda staff and the deceased’s family members said they were shocked by the court’s verdict which they said was light compared to the crime committed.
Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of TI-Rwanda, said while he appreciated the independence of the judiciary and respected the court’s decision, the sentence was not commensurate with the crime.
“We will sit down with the deceased family and see if we can appeal the ruling,” Mupinganyi said.