KIGALI - One of the two suspects in the murder of local journalist, Jean Leonard Rugambage, yesterday told court that he shot Rugambage out of anger and pleaded for forgiveness and a lighter sentence.
In a chilling confession before the Vice President of Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, Didace Nduguyangu, said that killing Rugambage was out of frustration and anger that he (Rugambage) had been released under unclear circumstances after serving half the sentence Gacaca traditional courts had handed him.
“I shot Rugambage out anger and frustration. When the Genocide ended and Gacaca courts were set up, we had thought that justice would finally be delivered and those who killed our people would be punished,” he said.
“I talked to Antoine (Karemera, his co-accused) about his case with Rugambage in Gacaca. He was sentenced to two years but after one year he was released under unclear circumstances,” a seemingly calm Nduguyangu told court.
He added that he talked about the issue with Karemera, whose brother Jean de Dieu Munyambabazi was killed by Rugambage during the 1994 Genocide, to seek legal redress from the military courts since Rugambage was a soldier with the Ex-FAR, but the army court did not help.
“We were not happy by the way Rugambage used to mock us and assuring us how our efforts to have him imprisoned failed and even went ahead to mockingly invite us to his wedding”.
“We then agreed to revenge. I am the one who went to his house, waited for him to come home and I shot him as he came out of the car and there after I run to Mount Kigali to hide the gun,” Nduguyangu said.
He added that he entered a deal with Karemera to finish off Rugambage but Karemera denies having entered such a deal. Nduguyangu said that he had not been paid by Karemera to kill Rugambage but rather Karemera gave him money as a “token of thanks” for the “good job” done.
Karemera also told court that he knew Nduguyangu and that they were both Genocide survivors who originate from the same area, but insisted that he did not enter any agreement with him to kill Rugambage.
“Indeed we are friends, but we did not have any plans to kill Rugambage, though up to now we don’t know the reason he had been released. We also used to discuss the transparency of Gacaca and the unfair decision to release him, but we never talked about plans to kill him,” Karemera told the court.
In opposing the request by the two suspects to be released on bail, Prosecutor Jean Baptiste Kayitare insisted that the fact that the two know each other and are aware of the facts in the case shows that there is a strong link of the two being partners in the crime.
Moses Shema, a lawyer representing Nduguyangu, pleaded with court to provisionally release Nduguyangu on grounds that he willingly admitted to the crime and also told court that he has a medical condition the requires him to go for treatment.
The prosecutor also acknowledged the fact that Nduguyangu had willingly pleaded guilty to the crime but the gravity of the offence is one that cannot allow him to be released on bail.
Karemera’s lawyer, Eugene Ntambara, argued that his client should be released on bail because he actually is not guilty.
According to the prosecution, Nduguyangu connived with Karemera to kill Rugambage to revenge for Karemera’s brother Munyambabazi, who died during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the hands of Rugambage.
Munyambabazi was a manager of Banque Populaire branch in Runda, Kamonyi District.
Rugambage was shot dead on June 24, as he entered his home in Nyakabanda in the outskirts of the city.
According to the Prosecution, it is suspected that Rugambage was shot three times in the head by Nduguyangu using a pistol T14-6234 he had acquired from the DR Congo.
In his testimony, Nduguyangu said that he does not regret having killed Rugambage since he was helping a fellow Genocide survivor to kill a person he called a genocidaire.
The judge Sauda Murererehe set the bail ruling for today.