The case levelled against Victoire Ingabire and her cohorts has various regional and international dimensions. According to the Prosecutor General, Mr. Martin Ngoga, the charges relating to her being part of a group bent on taking up arms against Rwanda is enough to press terrorism charges. Further still Ngoga says that charges related to genocide ideology, Revisionism and Ethnic divisionism all have a basis on an international law to which Rwanda is a signatory.
This is in addition to a UN report which established a link between her yet -to-be registered political party FDU-Inkingi with the FDLR terror machine. In this exclusive interview with Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah of The New Times, Ngoga elaborates on the international and regional aspects of the Ingabire trial. Excerpts.
From an international law point of view how is the Ingabire case being handled?
It is being handled locally while in some areas we are seeking international cooperation. The reason being that her network is far beyond our borders and some applicable legal instruments are international by nature. I must also point out that most of the acts were committed out of our national jurisdictions.
To what extent is the UN experts report being used by prosecution?
The UN report only emphasizes the point that Ingabire’s links with FDLR is as much factually proven as is FDLR being a terrorist organization by the United Nations. What it therefore means, is that even those who,for cynical reasons fail to acknowledge our reasons and authority to prosecute her and her cohorts, should always remember that there is that UN record that no one can attribute to Rwanda.
Otherwise, in the current case we have very credible evidence, witness testimony and documents proving her links with FDLR elements with a specific aim of punching holes in the security situation in the country.
That is the main reason that can be attributed to her establishing contacts with known terrorist organizations.
How is the case likely to impact on Ingabire’s presidential bid and the pending registration of her political party?
While I would not wish to engage in a debate of such a nature there are a few observations I would wish to make. What prosecution is doing is to assemble evidence and bring a criminal case against leaders of FDU-Inkingi individually.
But as regards the credentials required of a candidate, I think there is more than enough record to disqualify Ingabire based on what is available even in the public domain.
The ideology she champions is loaded with genocidal background. I say this by going through the profiles of its leadership, mostly fugitives of genocide are simply enough reasons to disqualify FDU-Inkingi and its operatives as a political party. I will give a parallel with the case of Spain which is a European democracy.
The case of FDU-Inkingi is not very different from Batasuna Party and other extremist parties in Spain. These parties have been outlawed not only in Spain but in other countries even within the European Union (EU).
The point here I am making is of de-linking the criminal process and the political process. They are different and they require different tests.
What does the Rwandan law say on the charges being brought against her-for instance the punishment if found guilty?
These are serious charges that would certainly attract serious punishment on conviction.The precisions are premature to make until we formulate the final charge sheet.
When is the substantive trial set to begin? How long is it likely to take as elections are around the corner. Ingabire has expressed desire to run for presidency.
I do not think it will take long before we start substantive trial. Neither do I think it would last long when it starts. That is our wish. However the only challenge we have so far is the seemingly lack of international cooperation from various countries mostly European that we requested for assistance to complete our investigation.
We have made several requests for judicial cooperation from several relevant countries where we traced her wider network, which eventually extends to FDLR. None of these European countries have responded, therefore, the speed with which they get back to us is also factored into the time we will need to clear this case.
Some people are saying that the case is politically motivated. The accused is herself saying that the case is an act of state suppression. She says that the state is bent on “repressing my political rights, to fabricate criminal records, to derail the registration of my political party FDU Inkingi and to deter my presidential eligibility”. What do you have to say about such statements?
If it was not for the hypocrisy in world politics nobody would gather audacity to suggest that someone linked to a terrorist organization. This link has been documented by the UN, can run for the highest office of any country.
If you have observed the evolution of the language of Ingabire’s defenders, it is no longer very much about total denial of this link. It is now just about “merely associating FDU with FDLR” in a casual manner.
It is now opposed to associating FDU with FDLR actual command and leadership structures which is a such a serious issue. Others who were up in arms to defend her collaborator Joseph Ntawangundi who was eventually found to have committed the Genocide are now in total silence as if they have never taken a position on that issue.
What I think is that with time they will just melt out as we move forward with the case. The outcome of this case will put them to shame.
What is her response to the contents of the UN report that mentions her adversely?
She simply denies it as she has denied even her own e-mails that pin her. She denied having known and met the FDLR commanders who met her in Kinshasa and Brazzaville.She simply denies even the obvious. But in this particular case as is so with others, denial is not uncommon in such criminal processes .
What about the rest implicated in the UN expert’s report or in the case. Has prosecution requested for extradition of such suspects? If so what is the latest on this request?
The case will involve every one implicated even those abroad will be tried in absentia.
Elaborate more on the charges centred around genocide ideology, Revisionism and Ethnic divisionism?
We have repeatedly said that we are not the only country that punishes denial of historically, judiciously and politically established facts of history. Cases such as the Jewish holocaust point to such a logic.
I must add that every country in Europe adheres to this law. There is supportive jurisprudence at the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Human Rights on the aspect of the charges you are talking about.
To me it is thus logical to state that, it is in itself, not a strange law only that our critics find ways of using it to blackmail us into inaction even when they actually apply their own similar laws to deal with relatively minor cases.
Similar laws exist in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany you name it-The entire EU. Infact as we speak, there is even a Framework decision within the EU under which all member-states are obliged to punish such crimes.
Back to her case-Of course what critics would tell you is that Ingabire does not deny that there was Genocide. But what is denial in this case? It is when she tries to lessen its extent or when she fails to attribute it to those who authored it including her known associates who have since been convicted.
Denial happens when one looks around for justification or seeks re-birth of its causes. It is a matter of if you want to define it properly and contextually or just define it in a self serving fashion.
Causing state insecurity as part of charges levelled against her means that her cohorts including herself are taking up arms against the state. What evidence is there so far?
There is witness testimony and documentary evidence to support that particular charge and as we continue to investigate we get more and more by the day.
What are the international cooperation efforts that have been sought by prosecution in assisting with the case? What has been the outcomes?
We have so far made four requests of rogatory commissions and we are finalizing the fifth request.We base our requests on international legal instruments such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 of September 28th 2001.
This is about counter-terrorism adopted under chapter seven of this particular protocol. It is binding on all UN member states. There is also Security Council Resolution 1566 which expounds on the working of an International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.
We have in the past extended judicial cooperation to countries that are investigating similar cases. Germany is investigating two FDLR leaders, and it has been using the same approaches of receiving cooperation they need from us. We therefore, expect that these countries will cooperate with us on this trial.